A new paper was recently made available on SSRN. The paper takes a unique approach to analyzing data on the over-representation of liberal law school faculty. The author begins the paper in an ingenious way. Imagine, he asks, that you are a major league ball player in the 1950’s. There are many whites and few blacks but the blacks that are on the team are very good--better than average. Hmmmmm. He argues that the lack of blacks on major league teams in the 1950’s wasn’t due to a lack of ability but was instead due to some subtle and not so subtle biases. These biases (including outright discrimination) created a situation where black ball players had to be better than the average white ball player to get a spot on the team. Sometimes they had to be a lot better.
You can see where he is going with this, right?
In a parallel way, he argues, conservatives have to be better than the average liberal law professor in order to get invited to the playground.
Through some rigorous analyses, the author finds that conservative law professors publish significantly more over their career than their liberal colleagues and that they are cited waaaayyy more often.
Here is the abstract:
There are few conservatives and libertarians in legal academia. Why? Three explanations are usually provided: the Brainpower, Interest, and Greed Hypotheses. Alternatively, it could be because of Discrimination. This paper explores these possibilities by looking at citation and publication rates by law professors at the 16 highest-ranked law schools in the country. Using regression analysis, propensity score matching, propensity score reweighting, nearest neighbor matching, and coarsened exact matching, this paper finds that after taking into account traditional correlates of scholarly ability, conservative and libertarian law professors are cited more and publish more than their peers. The paper also finds that they tend to have more of the traditional qualifications required of law professors than their peers, with a few exceptions. This paper indicates that, at least in the schools sampled, conservative and libertarian law professors are not few in number because of a lack of scholarly ability or professional qualifications. Further, the patterns do not prove, but are consistent with, a story of discrimination. The downsides to having so few conservatives and libertarians in the legal academy are also briefly explored.
These types of studies are becoming more prevalent, which is good news. Seriously minded people should care about the consequences attached to such studies. Moreover, these studies help to debunk the notion that conservatives are dolts and not interested in intellectual work.
On a side note, I just read a few studies that found that liberals are “more open to experience.” Openness is a major personality factor in the 5-factor model. The authors argued that openness likely helped to explain why there are so few conservatives in the academy--you know, because conservatives don’t like new ideas and they don’t like to explore new territory. As fate would have it, I then read a paper on psychopathy. Wouldn’t you know it......openness correlated positively with narcissism. I wonder how that would get spun?
Here is the paper on lawyers:
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology