Paul Oyer

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
Academic Area: 

Additional Administrative Titles

  • Director, Big Data, Strategic Decisions: Analysis to Action
Co-Director, Center for Entrepreneurial Studies
Director, Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative

Research Statement

Paul Oyer studies the economics of organizations and human resource practices. His work has looked at the use of broad-based stock option plans, how firms use non-cash benefits, how firms respond to limits on their ability to displace workers, and how labor market conditions affect their entire careers when MBAs and PhD economists leave school. Oyer’s current projects include studies of how firms identify and recruit workers in high-skill and competitive labor markets, with a focus on the markets for newly minted lawyers and MBAs.

Research Interests

  • Labor Economics
  • Personnel Economics
  • Incentives
  • Matching Firms and Workers


Paul Oyer is the Mary and Rankine Van Anda Entrepreneurial Professor and Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also a Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Labor Economics.

Paul does research in the field of personnel economics. In addition, he is the author of two books published in 2014. “Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating” is an entertaining and non-technical explanation of numerous key ideas in microeconomics using examples from online dating, as well as labor markets and many product markets. “Roadside MBA” (with Michael Mazzeo and Scott Schaefer) is a non-technical Strategy guide for small businesses based on the authors’ extensive travel around the US interviewing small business owners.

Before moving to the GSB in 2000, Paul was on the faculty of the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. In his pre-academic life, he worked for the management consulting firm of Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, as well as for the high technology firms 3Com Corporation and ASK Computer Systems. He holds a BA in math and computer science from Middlebury College, an MBA from Yale University, and an MA and PhD in economics from Princeton University. When not teaching or doing research, Paul runs, swims, skis, hangs out with his two college-age children, and walks his flat-coated retriever.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Economics, Princeton University, 1996
  • MA in Economics, Princeton University, 1994
  • MBA, Yale University School of Management, 1989
  • BA, Middlebury College, Mathematics and Computer Science, 1985

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Economics, Stanford GSB, 2009-present
  • Associate Professor of Economics, Stanford GSB, 2002-2009
  • Assistant Professor of Economics, Stanford GSB, 2000-2002
  • Assistant Professor of Management and Strategy, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 1996-2000
  • Faculty Research Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, 1998-2000
  • Affiliate, Center for the Study of Industrial Organization, Northwestern University, 2000

Professional Experience

  • Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2003-present
  • Market Analyst, ASK Computer Systems, Mountain View, CA, 1991-1992
  • Product Manager, 3Com Corporation, Santa Clara, CA, 1990-1991
  • Production Planner, 3Com Corporation, Santa Clara, CA, 1989-1990
  • Research Associate, Booz Allen and Hamilton, Inc., New York, NY, 1985-1987

Awards and Honors

  • Dhirubhai Ambani Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship for 2016-2017
  • Lacob Family Faculty Fellow, Stanford GSB, 2013-2014
  • Fred H. Merrill Professor of Economics, Stanford GSB, 2011-present
  • Louise and Claude N. Rosenberg, Jr. Faculty Scholar, 2008-2009
  • Morgridge Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, 2000-2001


Journal Articles

Paul Oyer, Scott Schaefer. Handbook of Labor Economics, Volume 4B. Great Britain: North Holland, 2011, Pages 1769-1823.
Paul Oyer. Journal of Finance. February 2008, Vol. 63, Issue 6, Pages 2601–2628.
Paul Oyer, Scott Schaefer. Journal of Financial Intermediation. 2006, Vol. 15, Issue 4, Pages 511-534.
Paul Oyer. Journal of Economic Perspectives. 2006, Vol. 20, Issue 3, Pages 143-160.
Michael Greenstone, Paul Oyer, Annette Vissing-Jorgensen. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2006, Vol. 121, Issue 2, Pages 399-460.
Paul Oyer, Scott Schaefer. Journal of Financial Economics. 2005, Vol. 76, Issue 1, Pages 99-133.
Paul Oyer. Journal of Finance. August 2004, Vol. 59, Issue 4, Pages 1619-1650.
Paul Oyer, Scott Schaefer. American Economic Review. June 2002, Vol. 92, Issue 3, Pages 683-705.
Paul Oyer. Journal of Labor Economics. July 2000, Vol. 18, Issue 3, Pages 405-426.
Kevin F. Hallock, Paul Oyer. Journal of Corporate Finance. December 1999, Vol. 5, Issue 4, Pages 303-321.
Paul Oyer. Quarterly Journal of Economics. February 1998, Vol. 113, Issue 1, Pages 149-185.


Michael Mazzeo, Paul Oyer, Scott Schaefer Business Plus, June 10, 2014.

Book Chapters

Edward Lazear, Paul Oyer. The Handbook of Organizational Economics. Princeton University Press, December 2012, Pages 479-519.

Working Papers

The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence from over a Million Rideshare Drivers | PDF
Cody Cook, Rebecca Diamond, Jonathan Hall, John A. List, Paul Oyer, January 2018
Dinner Table Human Capital and Entrepreneurship | PDF
Hans K. Hvide, Paul Oyer, December 142017
Firm/Employee Matching: An Industry Study of American Lawyers | PDF
Paul Oyer, Scott Schaefer, October 2012
Personnel Economics
Edward Lazear, Paul Oyer, October 2007


Degree Courses


MGTECON 200 is a base-level course in microeconomics. It covers microeconomic concepts relevant to management, including the economics of relationships, pricing decisions, perfect competition and the "invisible hand," risk aversion and risk...

This class will analyze the growth in inequality in the US over the last several decades and how that trend is likely to continue or change in the future. We will ask if and how public policy can affect inequality. We will also focus on business'...

This seminar will examine applications of labor economics to business issues and firms' practices. Material will include both theoretical and empirical work, and the syllabus will range from classics in Personnel Economics to current (unpublished...


This course is an introduction to Microeconomics, focusing on microeconomic concepts relevant to managerial decision making. Topics include demand and supply, cost structure, price discrimination, perfect competition, externalities, and the...

This class will analyze the growth in inequality in the US over the last several decades and how that trend is likely to continue or change in the future. We will ask if and how public policy can affect inequality. We will also focus on business'...

This course will develop Business Strategy frameworks, some of which will be familiar from the core Strategy class and others of which will be new, and apply them to growing businesses. We will look at companies attempting to grow, as well as...

Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Conferences, Talks, and Speaking Engagements

  • Video: How Economics Can Help You Find Love Online
    Paul Oyer explains how Nobel Prize-winning economic theories can help you find true love online in his book "Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating."
  • Audio: The Economics of Online Dating
    Paul Oyer, Stanford economist and the author of "Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating," explains the marketplace of online love.

Service to the Profession

  • Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Labor Economics, November 2012-present
  • Editor, Journal of Labor Economics, 2007-2012

Insights by Stanford Business

December 3, 2018
From tips for career satisfaction to an economist’s stint as an Uber driver, here are the stories that caught our readers’ attention.
April 19, 2018
Stanford GSB professors recommend their favorite books and articles related to the concept.
February 16, 2018
In studying the gig economy, Paul Oyer opts for a hands-on-the-wheel approach.
February 7, 2018
Latinos are starting businesses at a higher rate than other ethnic groups, but scaling remains a challenge.
March 30, 2015
Larger, more prestigious firms are more likely to take a chance on you.
December 12, 2014
An industrial mixer company combines product and process innovation.
December 11, 2014
Explore 10 Stanford Business stories from 2014, including pieces on happiness and networking.
December 8, 2014
A small dairy shows how product differentiation can be the key to success.
June 10, 2014
In an excerpt from their new book, three economists share what they learned about small businesses in America.
January 7, 2014
In an excerpt from his new book, an economist explains why it’s important to show you really mean what you say.
July 1, 2010
An economist finds that random factors play a large role in determining the kinds of jobs MBAs take upon graduation.
February 1, 2004
Research shows that CEOs promoted from within are much more likely to retain the senior management team.
August 1, 2001
A study says they're lousy motivators, but can serve as salary buffers to keep workers from leaving when compensation rises in the labor market.

School News

July 25, 2018
The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative is amassing a huge database and network to nourish the fast-growing sector.
June 8, 2018
A labor economist examines firms, workers, and how seemingly random variables lead to major impact.
February 20, 2018
Big Data, Strategic Decisions: Analysis to Action will empower senior-level executives to use data analytics to improve decisions and gain a competitive advantage.
November 17, 2017
The presentation at the 2017 reunion weekend includes the first group award for volunteers.