Susan Athey

The Economics of Technology Professor

Professor of Economics (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences 

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economics Policy Research

Spence Faculty Fellow for 2013-14

Phone: (650) 725-1813


Personal Homepage:

Academic Areas: Economics

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.


Susan Athey is Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business.  Born in 1970, she received her bachelor's degree from Duke University and her Ph. D  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 computer science and economics. Recently she has been working on theoretical and empirical studies of internet search, online advertising and the news media. She advises governments and businesses on the design of auction-based marketplaces, consulting for Microsoft Corporation in the role of chief economist since 2007, focusing on online services.  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.  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 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

B.A., Duke University, 1991; Ph.D., Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1995

Honorary Degree, Duke University, 2009

Selected Publications

  • Subsidies and Set-Asides in Auctions (with Jonathan Levin and Dominic Coey): American Economic Journals: Microeconomics , (forthcoming)
  • Position Auctions with Consumer Search (with Glenn Ellison): Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126 (3), 2011
  • Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Theory and Evidence from Timber Auctions (with Jonathan Levin and Enrique Seira): Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126 (1), 2011
  • The Impact of Targeting Technology on Advertising Markets and Media Competition (with Joshua Gans): American Economic Review, May, 2010
  • Skewed Bidding in Per Per Auction Models of Online Advertising (with Nikhil Agarwal and David Yang): American Economic Review, May, 2009,
  • Collusion with Persistent Cost Shocks (with Kyle Bagwell): Econometrica, Vol. 76, No. 3 (May, 2008), 2008
  • Designing Efficient Mechanisms for Dynamic Bilateral Trading Games: American Economic Review Paper and Proceedings, May 2007,
  • Efficiency in Repeated Trade with Hidden Valuations (with David Miller): Theoretical Economics, 2 (3), 2007
  • Discrete Choice Models with Multiple Unobserved Choice Characteristics (with Guide Imbens): International Economic Review, 48 (4), 2007
  • What Does Performance in Graduate School Predict? Graduate Economics Education and Student Outcomes (with Larry Katz, Alan Krueger, James Poterba, and Steve Levitt): American Economic Review, May, 2007,
  • Identification adn Inference in Nonlinear Difference-In-Difference Models (with Guido Imbens): Econometrica 74 (2), March, 2006
  • The Optimal Degree of Monetary Policy Discretion (with Philip Haile): Econometrica 73 (5), September, 2005
  • Collusion and Price Rigidity (with Kyle Bagwell and Chris Sanchirico): Review of Economic Studies, 71 (2), April, 2004
  • Identification in Standard Auction Models (with Philip Haile): Econometrica, 70 (6) November, 2001
  • The Impact of Information Technology on Emergency Health Care Outcomes (with Scott Stern): RAND Journal of Economics, 33 (3), Autumn, 2002
  • Monotone Comparative Statics Under Uncertainty: Quarterly Journal of Economics, CXVII (1), February, 2002
  • Optimal Collusion with Private Information (with Kyle Bagwell): RAND Journal of Economics, 32 (3), Autumn, 2001
  • Single Crossing Properties and the Existence of Pure Strategy Equilibria in Games of Incomplete Information: Econometrica, 69 (4), July, 2001
  • Organizational Design: Decision Rights and Incentive Contracts: American Economic Review (Papers and Proceedings), May 2001
  • Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions (with Jonathan Levin): Journal of Political Economy, 109 (2), April, 2001
  • Investment and Market Dominance (with Armin Schmutzler): RAND Journal of Economics, 32 (1), Spring, 2001
  • Mentoring and Diversity (with Chris Avery and Peter Zemsky): American Economic Review, 90 (4) September , 2000
  • Information Technology and Training in Emergency Call Centers (with Scott Stern).: Proceedings of the Fifty-First Annual Meetings (New York, Jan 3-5, 1999). Madison, WI: Industrial Relations Research Association, pp. 53-60. ,
  • Product and Process Flexibility in an Innovative Environment (with Armin Schmutzler): RAND Journal of Economics, 26 (4), Winter, 1995
  • A Structural Model of Sponsored Search Advertising Markets (with Denis Nekipelov): Working Paper: Under Review, 2012
  • The Impact of the Internet on Advertising Markets for News Media (with Emilio Calvano and Joshua Gans): Working Paper, 2012
  • The Impact of News Aggregators on Internet News Consumption: The Case of Localization (with Markus Mobius): Working Paper, 2012
  • Peaches, Lemons, and Cookies: Designing Auction Markets with Dispersed Information (with Moshe Babaioff, Michael Grubb, and Ittai Abraham): Working Paper, 2012
  • Position Paper: Sponsored Search Auctions are Combinators (with Ian A. kash, Peter Key, David C. Parkes, Mahyar Salek, and Moshe Tennenholtz): Working Paper, 2012
  • Exchange Rate Fluctuations, Consumer Demand, and Advertising: the Case of Internet Search (with Maya Cohen Meidan): Working Paper, 2011
  • Characterizing Properties of Stochastic Objective Functions: MIT Working Paper 96-1R: Revise & Resubmit, B.E. Journals in Theoretical Economics,
  • Investment and Information Value for a Risk-Averse Firm: MIT Working Paper No. 00-30: Revise & Resubmit, B.E. Journals in Theoretical Economics,
  • The Value of Information in Monotone Decision Problems (with Jonathan Levin): MIT Working Paper No. 98-24, November 1998
  • An Empirical Framework for Testing Theories about Complementarities in Organizational Design (with Scott Stern): NBER Working Paper 6600: Revise & Resubmit, Management Science, February 1998
  • The Allocation of Decisions in Organizations (with Joshua Gans and Scott Stern): Mimeo, MIT, 1996

Courses Taught


  • Member: Econometric Society, American Economic Association, Committee for the Status of Women in Economics