NEED arises from the significant discrepancy between what economists generally think when it comes to policy issues and the economic arguments made in policy debates.

"I've never seen the disjunction between the political debate about economics and the consensus of economists be as large as it is today."
 
Justin Wolfers, University of Michigan
The Secret Consensus Among Economists
Freakonomics Blog: July 24, 2012

NEED exists to try to close this gap. The only way to close the gap is to create an electorate that knows the difference between out-and-out nonsense and the consensus opinions among economists, of which there are a surprisingly large number. NEED is designed to promote economic policy literacy by putting mainstream economics in front of the general public.

There is a small army of professional economists in the United States, and far too few of them are actively engaged with the general public. Many write op-eds and post blogs, but far fewer make a habit of going out and speaking in front of general audiences, political staff, their university’s economics clubs, or at high schools. Providing information electronically is very important, but there is nothing quite like interacting face-to-face with a captive audience.

If economists regularly engage with the general public as an expected part of their professional outreach, the general level of economic policy literacy of the electorate will rise and public policy discourse will be improved.

To that end, NEED attempts to make the interaction easier. This is accomplished by:

  • Providing complete presentations on a variety of topics that are a part of current policy debates and
  • Generating speaking opportunities.

The presentations are publicly available in their raw PowerPoint form; they can be used directly or edited by the presenters. They also come with a complete set of references. Each presentation provides background information on each policy issues and discusses the trade-offs inherent in the possible decisions. Where appropriate, the presentations will present evidence of a consensus among economists. Also where appropriate, the presentations will clearly point out where the current policy narrative is oversimplifying the issue.

The goal is to provide presentations that help the audience understand that some policy issues, despite a simplistic narrative, are extremely complicated and require weighing pros and cons.

In the end, NEED is about promoting fact-based discourse and evidence based policy.

NEED is led by Executive Director, Jon Haveman, and Board Members: Emily Blanchard, Tibor Besedes, and Mina Kim.

© 2018 National Economic Education Delegation