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The Impact of Digitization on Labor Markets, Product Quality, and Information

Susan Athey, Paul Oyer, Markus Mobius 2017 - 2018

The Impact of Digitization on Labor Markets, Product Quality, and Information

Automation through both robotics and software is quickly diffusing, and digital platforms continue to expand, with profound implications for labor markets and democracy. First, the effect of automation on labor markets has been the subject of much debate, but little rigorous analysis. This project builds an economic model and uses it to evaluate conditions under which automation causes large increases in inequality or poverty. The project will develop empirical estimates of factors such as those that relate to preferences around transportation (which will be impacted by automation), including workers’ willingness to commute and move. Second, marketplaces and platforms serve as intermediaries between consumers and the goods and services they consume; they also determine who supplies those goods and services, and indirectly, their quality and composition. Platforms affect labor market opportunities of individuals, as well as labor market equilibrium. Platforms often provide flexibility for workers, and enable new approaches to incentivize quality. This project measures these effects in several industries, including services (ridesharing, dog-sitting, and rooms) and markets for news, which is fundamental to democracy. New algorithms for improving the performance of marketplaces as well as the efficiency of government will be developed and deployed, and their performance evaluated.

Publications:
Athey, S. “Beyond prediction: Using big data for policy problems.” Science 03 Feb. 2017: 483-485. 

Researchers

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Susan Athey

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
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Susan Athey

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
Professor of Economics (by courtesy)
Susan Athey’s research is in the areas of industrial organization, microeconomic theory, and applied econometrics. Her current research focuses on the design of auction-based marketplaces and the economics of the internet, primarily on online advertising and the economics of the news media. She has also studied dynamic mechanisms and games with incomplete information, comparative statics under uncertainty, and econometric methods for analyzing auction models.
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Paul Oyer

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Paul Oyer

The Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics
Paul Oyer studies the economics of organizations and human resource practices. His recent work has looked at the use of broad-based stock option plans, how firms use non-cash benefits, and how firms respond to limits on their ability to displace workers. Oyer's currect projects include studies of how labor market conditions affect their entire careers when MBAs and PhD economists leave school, how firms identifiy and recruit workers in high-skill and competitive labor markets (with a focus on the markets for software engineers and newly minted lawyers), and, of most importance to his colleagues, how universities price and allocate parking spaces.
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Markus Mobius

Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research
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Markus Mobius

Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research
My main research agenda deals with the economics of social networks. On the theory side, I build models of learning, coordination and cooperation within social networks. I am particularly interested in how social networks can generate trust. In joint work with my coauthors Adam Szeidl, Tanya Rosenblat, Attila Ambrus and Dean Karlan we developed the social collateral approach to social capital which provides a tractable framework to think about repeated games in social networks.