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Susan Athey

Susan   Athey
Professor, Economics
Contact Info
The Economics of Technology Professor
Professor of Economics (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences 
Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economics Policy Research
Academic Area: 

Research Statement

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.

Research Interests

  • Economics of the internet
  • Economics of the news media
  • Platform markets
  • Online advertising
  • Internet search
  • Econometrics and machine learning
  • Big data
  • Math-based currency
  • Industrial organization

Teaching Statement

Professor Athey teaches classes about the economics of the internet and digital markets, platform markets, and internet search.


Susan Athey is the Economics of Technology Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.  Born in 1970, she received her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and her PhD from Stanford, and she holds an honorary doctorate from Duke University. She previously taught at the economics departments at MIT, Stanford and Harvard.

Her current research focuses on the economics of the internet, marketplace design, auction theory, the statistical analysis of auction data, and the intersection of econometrics and machine learning.  She has focused on several applications, including timber auctions, internet search, online advertising, the news media, and virtual currency. She advises governments and businesses on the design of auction-based marketplaces. She has served as a long-term consultant for Microsoft Corporation since 2007, including a period as chief economist.  She also serves as a long-term advisor to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, helping to architect and implement their auction-based pricing system.

At the age of 36, Professor Athey received the John Bates Clark Medal. The Clark Medal was awarded by the American Economic Association every other year to “that American economist under the age of forty who is adjudged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge.” She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008. In 2000, she received the Elaine Bennett research award, given every other year to an outstanding young woman in any field of economics. She received continuous funding from the National Science Foundation from 1995 to 2008, including a prestigious Career Development award. In addition, she received the Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship for 2000-2002. She was elected as a fellow of the Econometric Society in 2004, and she is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution in 2000-2001, and in 2004-2005 was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science at Stanford.

Professor Athey is a member of the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science, as well as the Honors and Awards Committee of the American Economics Association.  She served as an elected member of the executive committee of the American Economic Association; as an elected member of the Council of the Econometric Society, and an elected member of the Council of the Game Theory Society.

She has served as co-editor of American Economic Journals: Microeconomics and Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, and as an associate editor of several leading journals, including the American Economic Review, Review of Economic StudiesQuarterly Journal of Economics, Theoretical Economics, Econometrica, and the RAND Journal of Economics, as well as the National Science Foundation economics panel. She was the chair of the program committee for the 2006 North American Winter Meetings, and she has served on numerous committees for the National Academy of Science, Econometric Society, the American Economic Association, and the Committee for the Status of Women in the Economics Profession.  She has also served on program committees and delivered keynote addresses for numerous conferences in computer science.

Non-academic honors include being named as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Diversity MBA’s Top 100 under 50Diverse Executives, Kilby Award Foundation’s Young Innovator Award, and the World Innovation Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s World’s Most Innovative People Award.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1995
  • BA, Economics, Computer Science, and Mathematics, Duke University, 1991

Academic Appointments

  • Professor, Stanford University Graduate School of Business , 2013-present
  • Professor of Economics, Harvard, 2006-2012
  • Holbrook Working Professor of Economics, Stanford, 2004-2006
  • Associate Professor of Economics, Stanford, 2001-2003
  • Castle Krob Career Development Associate Professor of Economics, MIT, 1998-2001
  • Assistant Professor of Economics, MIT, 1995-1997

Awards and Honors

  • Codirector, Digital Business: Data, Decisions & Platform Strategy Initiative, Stanford GSB, 2015
  • Spence Faculty Fellow, Stanford GSB, 2013-2014
  • Fellow, Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory, 2013
  • Member, National Academy of Science, elected 2012
  • Honorary degree, Duke University, 2009
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, elected 2008
  • John Bates Clark Medal, 2007
  • Fellow, Econometric Society, elected 2004
  • Guggenheim Faculty Scholar, Stanford University, 2004-2006
  • Elaine Bennett Research Award, 2001
  • Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, 2000
  • Undergraduate Economics Association Teaching Award, 1995-1996
  • Review of Economic Studies Tour, 1995
  • Stanford University Lieberman Fellow, 1994-1995
  • State Farm Dissertation Award in Business, 1994
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1991-1994
  • Jaedicke Scholar, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1992-1993
  • Mary Love Collins Scholarship, Chi Omega Foundation, 1991-1992
  • Duke University Alice Baldwin Memorial Scholarship, 1990-1991


Journal Articles

Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens. American Economic Review. May 1, 2015, Vol. 105, Issue 5, Pages 476–480.
Susan Athey, Glenn Ellison. Journal of Economics & Management Strategy. April 2014, Vol. 23, Issue 2, Pages 294–316.
Susan Athey, Ilya Segal. Econometrica. November 2013, Vol. 81, Issue 6, Pages 2463–2485.
Susan Athey, Dominic Coey, Jonathan Levin. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics. 2013, Vol. 5, Issue 1, Pages 1–27.
Susan Athey, Jonathan Levin, Enrique Seira. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2011, Vol. 126, Issue 1, Pages 207–257.
Susan Athey, Glenn Ellison. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2011, Vol. 126, Issue 3, Pages 1213–1270.
Susan Athey, Joshua S. Gans. American Economic Review. May 2010, Vol. 100, Issue 2, Pages 608–613.
Nikhil Agarwal, Susan Athey, David Yang. American Economic Review. 2009, Vol. 99, Issue 2, Pages 441–447.
Susan Athey, Kyle Bagwell. Econometrica. May 2008, Vol. 76, Issue 3, Pages 493–540.
Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens. International Economic Review. December 2007, Vol. 48, Issue 4, Pages 1159–1192.
Susan Athey, David A. Miller. Theoretical Economics. September 2007, Vol. 2, Issue 3, Pages 299–354.
Susan Athey, Ilya Segal. American Economic Review. May 2007, Vol. 97, Issue 2, Pages 131–136.
Susan Athey, Larry Katz, Alan Krueger, Steve Levitt, James Poterba. American Economic Review. May 2007, Vol. 97, Issue 2, Pages 512–520.
Susan Athey, Philip A. Haile. Handbook of Econometrics. 2007, Vol. 6, Issue A, Pages 3847–3965.
Susan Athey, Guido Imbens. Econometrica . March 2006, Vol. 74, Issue 2, Pages 431–497.
Susan Athey, Andrew Atkeson, Patrick J. Kehoe. Econometrica . September 2005, Vol. 73, Issue 5, Pages 1431–1475.
Susan Athey, Kyle Bagwell, Chris Sanchirico. Review of Economic Studies. April 2004, Vol. 71, Issue 2, Pages 317-349.
Susan Athey, Scott Stern. RAND Journal of Economics. September 2002, Vol. 33, Issue 3, Pages 399-432.
Susan Athey. Quarterly Journal of Economics. February 2002, Vol. 117, Issue 1, Pages 187-223.
Susan Athey, Philip Haile. Econometrica. 2002, Vol. 70, Issue 6, Pages 2107 - 2140.
Susan Athey, Kyle Bagwell. RAND Journal of Economics. September 2001, Vol. 32, Issue 3, Pages 428-465.
Susan Athey. Econometrica. July 2001, Vol. 69, Issue 4, Pages 861-889.
Susan Athey, John Roberts. American Economic Review. May 2001, Vol. 91, Issue 2, Pages 200-205.
Susan Athey, Jonathan Levin. Journal of Political Economy. April 2001, Vol. 109, Issue 2, Pages 375-417.
Susan Athey, Armin Schmutzler. RAND Journal of Economics. March 2001, Vol. 32, Issue 1, Pages 1-26.
Susan Athey, Chris Avery, Peter Zemsky. American Economic Review. September 2000, Vol. 90, Issue 4, Pages 765-786.
Susan Athey, Scott Stern. Industrial Relations Research Association. January 3, 1999, Pages 53-60.
Susan Athey, Armin Schmutzler. RAND Journal of Economics. December 1995, Vol. 26, Issue 4, Pages 557-574.

Book Chapters

Susan Athey, Scott Stern. Economic Analysis of the Digital Economy (National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, April 1, 2015, Pages 443–447.

Working Papers

Machine Learning for Estimating Heretogeneous Casual Effects | PDF
Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens, July 202015
Exact P-values for Network Interference | PDF
Susan Athey, Dean Eckles, Guido W. Imbens, June 2015
Finite Population Causal Standard Errors | PDF
Alberto Abadie, Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens, Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, July 2014
Peaches, Lemons, and Cookies: Designing Auction Markets with Dispersed Information | PDF
Ittai Abraham, Susan Athey, Moshe Babaiof, Michael D. Grubb, May 62014
Social Media and News Consumption | PDF
Susan Athey, Markus Mobius, Jeno Pal, January 142014
A Theory of Community Formation and Social Hierarchy | PDF
Susan Athey, Emilio Calvano, Saumitra Jha, June 2010
Mentoring, Discrimination and Diversity in Organizations | PDF
Susan Athey, Christopher Avery, Peter Zemsky1994
The Allocation of Decisions in Organizations | PDF
Susan Athey, Joshua Gans, Scott Schaefer, Scott Stern1994

Courses Taught

Degree Courses


This class will analyze the economics of digital platform markets. The class format will consist of lectures, guest speakers, and student presentations. Concepts will be presented in the context of leading examples of internet and technology...

The Global advertising market is forecast to top $600 Billion in 2016, with advances in advertising technology, such as online publishing, digital and mobile advertising platforms, as well as new ways of consuming video content, driving a rapid...


This class will analyze the economics of digital platform markets. The class format will consist of lectures, guest speakers, and student presentations. Concepts will be presented in the context of leading examples of internet and technology...

This class will guide students through in-depth research projects focusing on specific case studies of digital businesses, where students select topics individually or in teams. The research projects must be framed using principles from...

This class will provide an overview of the rapidly evolving world of financial technologies. New market entrants are promising to change the way we borrow, save, invest, and transact. Incumbents enjoy substantial market power but are struggling...

This course studies principles for leading organizations and creating business value from the perspective of a high-level executive. Topics include product development, business models and pricing, people management, time allocation, measurement...


This class will explore the economics of the internet search business. The class will consist of lectures, guest speakers, and short student presentations. The course will begin with an overview of internet search, including the technology and...

This class will analyze the economics of internet platform markets. The class format will consist of lectures, guest speakers, and student presentations. The course will begin with economic definitions of platform markets, and it will review...

Conferences, Talks, and Speaking Engagements

Stanford University Affiliations

Greater Stanford University

  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute of Economic Policy Research
  • Member, Program on Computational Social Science

Service to the Profession

Current Activities

  • Member, President’s Committee for the National Medal of Science (Presidential Appointment), 2014-Present
  • Member, National Academies Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy Innovation Policy Form, 2013-present
  • Member, National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, 2013-present

Past Activities

  • Member, President’s Committee for the National Medal of Science (Presidential Appointment), 2011-2013
  • Member, Nominating Committee for American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2011-2012
  • Cambridge Economics Economics and Computational Day, co-founder, 2011.
  • Council, Game Theory Society, 2009-2012. (elected position)
  • Associate Editor, Theoretical Economics, 2005-2011
  • Council, Econometric Society, 2007-2010. (elected position)
  • Executive Committee, American Economic Association, 2008-2010. (elected position)
  • Advisory Committee on Editorial Appointments, American Economics Association, 2011
  • Co-Editor, American Economic Journals: Microeconomics, 2007-2008
  • Associate Editor, Econometrica, 2006-2007
  • Associate Editor, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2001-2007
  • Editorial Board, Not a Journal Economics, 2001-2008
  • Fellows Nominating Committee, Econometric Society, 2006
  • Elaine Bennett Research Prize Committee (AEA/CSWEP), 2002, 2004, 2006 (Chair)
  • Chair, Program Committee, Winter Meetings of the Econometric Society, 2006
  • National Science Foundation Economics Panel, 2004-2006
  • Co-director, Market Design Program, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 2004-2006
  • Mentor, CeMent Mentoring Workshop, AEA/CSWEP, 2006
  • Young Faculty Nominating Committee, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences
  • Associate Editor, American Economic Review, 2002-2005
  • Associate Editor, RAND Journal of Economics, 2002-2004
  • Foreign Editor, Review of Economic Studies, 2001-2004
  • American Economic Association Nominating Committee, 2003
  • Stanford University Fellow, 2002-2004
  • Co-editor, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 1997-2001
  • Program Committee, Summer Meetings of the Econometric Society, 1997 and 1998; 8th World Congress of the Econometric Society, 2000; Winter Meetings of the Econometric Society, 2001 and 2005

In the Media

Harvard University, August 26, 2015
Prof. Susan Athey discusses her research and work on big data
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, August 2015
Stanford GSB, June 18, 2015
Susan Athey explains how Bitcoin works, and why virtual digital currency might change the way consumers and financial institutions do business. Athey is the Economics of Technology professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Businessweek, April 26, 2015
Becker Friedman Institute, April 10, 2015
University of Chicago undergraduates heard an array of views on the economic, moral, and political effects of so-called "big data" at a student-organized panel discussion held on April 10, 2015 at the Saieh Hall for Economics. Led by fourth-year students students in the College, the panel featured economists Susan Athey of Stanford University and Hal Varian of the University of California, Berkeley, as well as statistician and machine learning expert Larry Wasserman of Carnegie Mellon University.
Bloomberg Businessweek, July 26, 2013
Stanford GSB economist Susan Athey talks with Bloomberg about the status of women in her field.

Insights by Stanford Business

February 25, 2014
Economist Susan Athey and venture capitalist Balaji Srinivasan discuss the digital currency.
September 20, 2013
The Stanford economist explains how troves of digital data will reshape competition.

School News

July 11, 2012
Award-winning economist Susan Athey, noted econometrician Guido Imbens, corporate finance expert Joshua Rauh, and others to join Stanford GSB faculty.
November 1, 2010
John Roberts' groundbreaking work in industrial organization affected the course of economic research and inspired a new generation of economists.