という論文をルイジ・ジンガレスが書いている(H/T UDADISI)。原題は「Preventing Economists’ Capture」。

When economists talk about regulatory capture, they do not imply that regulators are corrupt or lack integrity. In fact, if regulatory capture was just due to illegal behavior, it would be easier to fight. Regulatory capture is so pervasive precisely because it is driven by standard economic incentives, which push even the most well-intentioned regulators to cater to the interest of the regulated. These incentives are built in their positions. Regulators depend upon the regulated for much of the information they need to do their job properly. This dependency creates a need to cater to the information providers. The regulated are also the only real audience of the regulators, since taxpayers have all the incentives to remain ignorant. Hence, the regulators’ on the job performance will be naturally defined with the regulated in mind, pushing the regulators to cater to the interest of the regulated. Finally, career incentives play a big role. The regulators human capital is highly industry specific and the best job for people holding that specific human capital are with the regulated. Hence, the desire to preserve future career options makes it difficult for the regulator not to cater to the regulated.


If these are the reasons why regulators are captured, it is not clear why economists are not captured as well. While not all data economists use are proprietary, access to proprietary data provides a unique advantage in a highly competitive academic market. To obtain those data academic economists have to develop a reputation to treat their sources nicely. Hence, their incentives to cater to industry or to the political authority that controls the data are similar to those of the regulators. Second, outside of academia the natural audience of their work is either business people or the government officials applying some of that knowledge. The popularity and support among business people or the government gives credibility to a piece of research and the person who did it. Even if no researcher purposefully caters to business or the government, this selection will ensure that the most popular and successful researchers will be those who cater to business or the government. Finally, academic human capital is highly specific. Opportunities in consulting and careers outside of academia are not equally distributed. Economists who cater to business interests clearly have a larger set of opportunities.


Most academic economists are very honest people, who chose their career because they were motivated by noble goals, like the quest for the truth and “making the world a better place”. Yet, the same can be said for the regulators. So why academic economists think that the regulators are generally captured, while they cannot stand even the thought that this might happen to one of them? This time we are different?

The purpose of this article is to highlight the parallelism between the forces that we use to explain regulatory capture and the ones that can capture economists. Unless we economists are made of a different fabric of the regulators, I do not see why we should not be subjected to the same kind of pressures.

Based on the analysis of these forces, I discuss several mechanisms to can help prevent (or reduce the effects of) capture: from a reform of the publication process, to an enhanced data disclosure, from a stronger theoretical foundation to a mechanism of peer pressure. Ultimately, the most important remedy, however, is awareness of the problem, an awareness most economists still do not have.
学界の経済学者の大部分は、非常に誠実な人々であり、経済学者の道を選んだのは、真実の探求や「世界をより良い場所にする」といった崇高な目的のためである。しかし、それは規制当局者も同じである。では、なぜ学界の経済学者は、規制当局者が虜となるのが一般的な現象であると考えるのに、自分たちの中にもそうなる者がいるかもしれないということに関しては考えるだに恐ろしいと思うのか? 今回は我々は違う、というのか?