Barkley Rosser, who is beardless (but not goatee-less) thinks I’m the victim of small sample bias. Paul Krugman, whose whiskers are iconic, says its because economists’ careers outrace their maturation. I say its Krugman who’s locked into a small, unrepresentative sample.
On the few occasions I sit down with economists like me (whose careers never took off or did so in unconventional ways), the men mostly do have beards. Granted, we are another small sample. I think it may have something to do with being in an in-between state, drawn in one direction to social science, political dissidence or a bit of bohemianism, and to an aura of techie-ness and familiarity with the norms of money and business in the other. A neatly trimmed beard cuts right down the middle.
But if this is worth thinking about, and if anyone actually cares, it’s worth serious empirical investigation—at the very least, an AEA survey like the ones that periodically show up in your inbox if you’re a member of this particular cult.