National Economic Panel



ESA National Economic Panel Polls





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Author's Name: Garry Barrett
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Garry Barrett

Professor Garry Barrett

Garry Barrett is Professor of Economics at the University of Sydney, and is currently Editor of The Economic Record. Garry completed his PhD at the University of British Columbia, and his main areas of research are labour economics, public economics and microeconometrics. Garry's research has focused on measuring economic inequality and poverty; applying consumption based measures of wellbeing; examining participation in income support programs and, more recently, analyzing the determinants of retirement behaviour and household saving. His work has been published in journals such as Econometrica, Review of Economics and Statistics,Journal of Econometrics, Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, Journal of Public Economics and The Economic Record.

Subject Area Expertise

Labour Economics, Public Economics; Social Policy.



Responses (26)

Government Debt during the COVID19 Crisis

Poll 40

"Governments should provide ongoing fiscal support to boost aggregate demand during the economic crisis and recovery, even if it means a substantial increase in public debt"

Photo Credit: Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND 




Social Distancing Measures, May 2020

Poll 38

"The benefits to Australian society of maintaining social distancing measures sufficient to keep R<1 for COVID-19 are likely to exceed the costs"


Strongly agree


There are immediate economic costs of strict social distancing measures enacted to limit the spread of COVID-19. Studies of the Spanish Influenza pandemic indicate that cities in the US that moved quickly to strict social distancing (or economic lock-down) measures experienced better health and economic outcomes. There are also important distributional issues to consider - there are policy levers to share the costs of the economic disruption across society and ameliorate the most severe impacts. The health and mortality impacts of allowing R>1 will severely impact the most vulnerable sections of our community.

Motherhood, caring and the careers of Australian women - April 2019

Poll 37

Proposition 1: "Without changes to existing public policy or private sector practice in Australia, motherhood will always negatively affect a woman's career."

Proposition 2: "In Australia, fathers are more restricted than mothers in fulfilling a caring role while in employment."


Part 1 - Strongly agree


Part 2 - Disagree


Royal Banking Commission (II) - February 2019

Poll 35

"There is no way to significantly increase the degree to which Australian retail banks act in the interests of consumers."


Strongly disagree


Congestion pricing - November 2018




Banking Royal Commission and the Credit Crunch - October 2018

Poll 33

Proposition 1: "There is a significant risk that, either as a result of the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry or as a result of the financial institutions' response to those findings, credit will become less readily available to Australian households or businesses."

Proposition 2: "Assuming credit becomes less readily available to Australian households or businesses, this will in turn have adverse consequences for the performance of the Australian economy."


1 - Agree

2 - Disagree

Waste Policy - August 2018

Poll 32

"There are clear net benefits for Australians from (further) increasing the diversion of waste from Australian landfills."


Strongly agree


Electric vehicles and road-use pricing - June 2018

Poll 30

"Pricing of road-use for electric vehicles should be the same as fossil fuel-powered vehicles."




Will building more homes make housing cheaper? - May 2018

Poll 29

"A sustained increase in the number of new homes constructed each year, all else equal, will make housing cheaper than otherwise."




The proposition alludes to a shift in the supply curve for new housing stock. However, the motivating material is about the growth in house prices in Australia. To understand the Australian experience of rising housing prices, research shows that the relative growth in demand factors is critical.

Gig economy and worker welfare - February 2018

Poll 26

"The wages and conditions of Australian workers providing services in sectors affected by the rapid growth of digital on-demand subcontracting platforms will, on average, be expected to fall without further government intervention."




Journalism as a public good - January 2018

Poll 25

Proposition 1: "The modern phenomena of information overload and social-media-fuelled 'fake news' bring into focus the value of quality journalism. Quality journalism has a public-good dimension that warrants public support."

Proposition 2: "The Australian government presently provides funding for the ABC and SBS, Australia's independent public broadcasters. The Australian government should increase its financial support of quality journalism."


1 - Strongly agree

2 - Agree

Same sex marriage - November 2017

Poll 24

"Assuming that the law will be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry in Australia, this will generate net economic benefits for the nation as a whole over the next 10 years."




Robots, artificial intelligence and the 'future of work' - October 2017

Poll 23

Question A: "Holding labor market institutions and job training fixed, rising use of robots and artificial intelligence is likely to increase substantially the number of workers in Australia who are unemployed for long periods."

Question B: "Rising use of robots and artificial intelligence in Australia is likely to create benefits large enough that they could be used to compensate those workers who are substantially negatively affected for their lost wages."


A - Disagree

B - Agree

Productivity gains are the foundation of improved standards of living across the community. Technology change can cause dislocation, and different groups of workers - for example, by skill level and type, experience and location - will be affected differently. An important distributional issue is to ensure groups more strongly impacted are appropriately supported.

Australian Federal Budget 2017 - Outsourcing Economic Forecasting - May 2017

Poll 18

"Given the Commonwealth Treasury?s ongoing difficulty in making accurate forecasts of some of the key economic variables underpinning the Budget ? in particular nominal GDP growth ? the Government should ?outsource? the economic forecasts used in framing the Budget to an independent agency (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office), as now happens in the United Kingdom."




Having an agency at arms length from govt should reduce the risk of political interference in the Budget forecasting process. This, in turn, has the potential to improve the credibility and accuracy of key forecasts.

Energy shortages - reserving Australian gas - April 2017

Poll 17

"In response to energy shortages around Australia, government policies requiring gas producers to reserve some production for domestic consumption are a good way to ensure that Australian consumers have access to sufficient gas supplies while still allowing for gas exports."




2016 US Election - November 2016

Poll 13

"Hillary Clinton is likely to be the superior US presidential candidate for the Australian economy and for Australia."


Strongly agree


It is challenging to distil a coherent economic plan from Trump's public announcements during the election campaign. Clinton's stated plan and public policy experience make her the compelling candidate.

Economics teaching - micro before macro - February 2017

Poll 15

"It is more effective to teach an introductory course in micro-economics first before an introductory course in macro-economics."




Part 1: 'Behavioural economics provides new and useful insights into individual behaviour.' Part 2: 'It is unethical for governments to use behavioural economics to

The total benefit of current levels* of migration to Australia will outweigh the total costs to Australia's economy.




Behavioural economics - September 2016

Poll 11

Part 1: 'Behavioural economics provides new and useful insights into individual behaviour.'

Part 2: 'It is unethical for governments to use behavioural economics to "nudge" citizens.'


PART 1 - Strongly disagree


PART 2 - Strongly disagree


The Brexit - impact on UK citizens - July 2016

Poll 9

"Assuming it is implemented, Brexit will deliver net economic benefits, on average, to UK citizens within its first 5 years."


Strongly disagree


Spend on education or business tax cut - June 2016

Poll 8

"Australia will receive a bigger economic growth dividend in the long-run by spending on education than offering an equivalent amount of money on a tax cut to business."




The social return to the investment in human capital I would expect to be greater. The specific details of the 2 policy options would clearly be important; the potential return on investment in schooling at early stages of the life-cycle are very high.

Budget 2016-17 - Returning to surplus - May 2016

Poll 7

"The recently released 2016-17 Commonwealth Budget projects that the Australian Government's underlying cash balance will return to surplus by 2020?21*. Australian politicians should rebalance the budget with greater urgency."


Strongly agree


Efficiency of tax Government investments in major sporting events - February/March 2016

Poll 5

"Government investments in major sporting events usually generate net benefits for the city or region where the investment is made."




Bah Humbug Australia - December 2015

Poll 3

"Giving specific presents as holiday gifts is inefficient, because recipients could satisfy their preferences much better with cash."




There is a literature on this - the quote is based on a very static perspective. In an evolutionary context, gift giving can have important implications for building trust and cooperation. Gifts can be useless but the institution of gift-giving may be very valuable.