Social scientists' testimony before congress in the United States between 1946-2016, trends from a new dataset

Thomas V. Maher, Charles Seguin, Yongjun Zhang, Andrew P. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Congressional hearings are a venue in which social scientists present their views and analyses before lawmakers in the United States, however quantitative data on their representation has been lacking. We present new, publicly available, data on the rates at which anthropologists, economists, political scientists, psychologists, and sociologists appeared before United States congressional hearings from 1946 through 2016. We show that social scientists were present at some 10,347 hearings and testified 15,506 times. Economists testify before the US Congress far more often than other social scientists, and constitute a larger proportion of the social scientists testifying in industry and government positions. We find that social scientists' testimony is increasingly on behalf of think tanks; political scientists, in particular, have gained much more representation through think tanks. Sociology, and psychology's representation before Congress has declined considerably beginning in the 1980s. Anthropologists were the least represented. These findings show that academics are representing a more diverse set of organizations, but economists continue to be far more represented than other disciplines before the US Congress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0230104
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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