Thursday, October 27, 2016

College professors and capitalism in the 1950s

In 1955, the Opinion Research Corporation ran a survey they called "Free Market versus Socialist Thinking," which was about basic economic issues.  I've written about it before, but until recently I hadn't noticed that it included special samples of a number of occupations:  Catholic clergy, Protestant clergy, college professors, high school teachers, business executives, other teachers, and manufacturing foremen.  They didn't give any details on how those samples were selected, but for what it's worth, here is the distribution of party identification for each group:

                              Rep    Dem   Other/None
Catholic clergy*     13%    52%     35%
Protestant clergy*  36%   37%     27%
Professors              31%    47%    22%
HS Teachers          40%   49%    11%
Executives*           62%   22%    16%
Other teachers       38%   50%     12%
Foremen                31%   47%     21%
Public                    37%   45%     18%              

The differences from the general pubic are statistically significant for the three groups marked with asterisks.

Today, college professors are far to the left of the general public.  I'm interested in figuring out how long this tendency has existed, so here are comparisons between the professor sample and the general sample on some other questions.

DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE A GOOD THING FOR THE COUNTRY IF THE GOVERNMENT PUT A TOP LIMIT ON THE SALARY ANY MAN COULD MAKE?
   
                       Yes       No
Professors        9%     86%
Public             18%     78%

DO YOU THINK IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT TO SEE THAT EVERYONE WHO IS WILLING AND ABLE TO
WORK HAS A JOB?

                      Yes       No
Professors       43%     48%
Public             45%     48%

DO YOU THINK THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX SHOULD BE CHANGED TO
MAKE THE RATE STIFFER ON PEOPLE WITH BIG INCOMES, OR NOT
SO STIFF?

                           Stiffer   Less     As Is    
Professors           23%    22%       48%
Public                 43%    15%       36%

Professors were to the right of the general public on economic issues, although they may have been more likely to identify as Democrats.  I suspect they were to left on "social issues" like opposition to McCarthyism and racial segregation, although the survey didn't contain any questions on them.

[Data from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]

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