By Robert H. Nelson (auth.), David L. Weimer (eds.)

Long earlier than coverage research emerged as a separate occupation with its personal graduate colleges, economists provided suggestion approximately executive rules. confident economics presents the instruments for predicting the affects of prop­ osed guidelines; normative economics, specially welfare conception, bargains a framework for valuing the affects of guidelines by way of potency and easy notions of fairness. With the growth of financial thought into ever wider fields of human habit, it's no ask yourself that economists have prominence as lecturers and practitioners of coverage research. certainly, many economists see coverage research as basically utilized economics. even though different social scientists may perhaps item to this just a little parochial view, economics and coverage research percentage a lot in commom when it comes to boost­ ment and clients. the aim of this quantity is to track those interrela­ tionships and discover the tensions that they convey. Tensions come up for numerous purposes. adjustments within the self-discipline of econ­ omics have an effect on the findings, equipment, and group of workers provided to coverage analy­ sis. for instance, at the one hand, the "new institutional economics" seems to be extending the impression of economists to questions related to nonmarket oranizations, whereas nevertheless, the it seems that turning out to be emphasis in the economics career on growing instead of empir­ ically trying out thought means that fewer of the easiest younger students should be interested in policy-relevant examine. in the colleges of coverage research, the go with the flow towards public administration might lessen the call for for standard fiscal training.

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Such a defense takes economists well beyond the realms of economic or even political analysis, into the domains of philosophy and cultural analysis. To argue that an economic approach is ECONOMISTS AS POLICY ANALYSTS: HISTORICAL OVERVIEW 13 an appropriate way of thinking is to make a claim with respect to core assumptions and values on which society is based. In short, one of the newer roles of a government economist might be said to be that of "ideological combatant," recognizing that by ideology is meant a perspective or way of thinking about the world such as economics represents.

In the 1970s offices of policy analysis, program planning, and similar designations were created throughout the federal government (Meltsner, 1976). Although there were predecessor offices in many cases, the new offices tended to give a greater emphasis to, and to ground their thinking in, economics (Nelson, 1989; Wildavsky, 1979: 407-419). By means of such offices, economic approaches to policy issues obtained an institutional base in diverse agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Department of Transportation; and ultimately almost every major federal agency.

Contrary to many initial expectations, the overall effect of social experiments tended to dampen enthusiasm of political leaders for social policy reforms; by raising complex questions, and then providing answers that were inconclusive or cast doubt on proposed solutions, policy-makers were more likely to shy away from bold departures. A systematic examination of the experiences of a range of economists serving at high policy-making positions in government was undertaken by William Allen (1977).

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