Susan Athey

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

Additional Administrative Titles

Co-Director, Digital Business: Data, Decisions & Platform Strategy Initiative

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.

Bio

Susan Athey is the Economics of Technology Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.  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 digitization, marketplace design, and the intersection of econometrics and machine learning.  She has worked on several application areas, including timber auctions, internet search, online advertising, the news media, and virtual currency. As one of the first “tech economists,” she served as consulting chief economist for Microsoft Corporation for six years, and now serves on the boards of Expedia, Rover, and Ripple.  She also serves as a long-term advisor to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, helping architect and implement their auction-based pricing system.

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

  • Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize, 2016
  • 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

Publications

Journal Articles

Susan Athey, Emilio Calvano, Joshua S. Gans. Management Science. April 2018, Vol. 64, Issue 4, Pages 1574-1590.
Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens, Thai Pham, Stefan Wager. American Economic Review. May 2017, Vol. 107, Issue 5, Pages 278-81.
Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens. Journal of Economic Perspectives. May 2017, Vol. 31, Issue 2, Pages 3-32.
Susan Athey, Andrzej Skrzypacz. Journal of Economic Perspectives. May 2017, Vol. 31, Issue 2, Pages 237-256.
Susan Athey, Jonathan Levin. Research in Economics ( in press ). February 16, 2017.
Susan Athey. Science. February 3, 2017, Vol. 335, Issue 6324, Pages 483-485.
Stefan Wager, Susan Athey. Journal of the American Statistical Association (forthcoming). 2017.
Susan Athey, Dean Eckles, Guido W. Imbens. Journal of the American Statistical Association (forthcoming). 2017.
Susan Athey, Stefan Wager. Journal of the American Statistical Association ( forthcoming ). November 2016.
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. The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda (forthcoming). University of Chicago Press, January 2018.
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

Stable Predictions across Unknown Environments | PDF
Kun Kuang, Ruoxuan Xiong, Peng Cui, Susan Athey, Bo Li, June 162018
Estimation Considerations in Contextual Bandits
Maria Dimakopoulou, Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens, March 22018
When Should You Adjust Standard Errors for Clustering? | PDF
Alberto Abadie, Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens, Jeffrey Wooldridge, October 92017
Structured Embedding Models for Grouped Data | PDF
Maja Rudolph, Francisco Ruiz, Susan Athey, David Blei, September 282017
Generalized Random Forests | PDF
Susan Athey, Stefan Wager, Julie Tibshirani, July 62017
Sampling-based vs. Design-based Uncertainty in Regression Analysis | PDF
Alberto Abadie, Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens, Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, June 2017
The Digital Privacy Paradox: Small Money, Small Costs, Small Talk | PDF
Susan Athey, Christian Catalini, Catherine E. Tucker, June 2017
Efficient Policy Learning | PDF
Susan Athey, Stefan Wager, February 2017
Solving Heterogeneous Estimating Equations with Gradient Forests | PDF
Susan Athey, Julie Tibshirani, Stefan Wager, January 2017
Matrix Completion Methods for Causal Panel Data Models
Susan Athey, Mohsen Bayati, Nick Doudchenko, Guido W. Imbens, Khashayar Khosravi2017
A Theory of Community Formation and Social Hierarchy | PDF
Susan Athey, Emilio Calvano, Saumitra Jha, August 62016
Bitcoin Pricing, Adoption, and Usage: Theory and Evidence | PDF
Susan Athey, Iva Parashkevov, Vishnu Sarukkai, Jing Xia, August 2016
Exact P-values for Network Interference | PDF
Susan Athey, Dean Eckles, Guido W. Imbens, June 2015
Machine Learning for Estimating Heretogeneous Casual Effects | PDF
Susan Athey, Guido W. Imbens, April 2015
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
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

Teaching

Degree Courses

2018-19

This course will cover statistical methods based on the machine learning literature that can be used for causal inference. In economics and the social sciences more broadly, empirical analyses typically estimate the effects of counterfactual...

2017-18

This class will provide an overview of the rapidly evolving area of distributed ledger and blockchain technologies, with a focus on economic and strategic issues. We will cover key components of the architecture that affect the products derived...

This course will cover statistical methods based on the machine learning literature that can be used for causal inference. In economics and the social sciences more broadly, empirical analyses typically estimate the effects of counterfactual...

Advances in advertising technology, such as online publishing, digital and mobile advertising platforms, as well as new ways of consuming video content are driving a rapid evolution of the advertising market. We analyze this evolution from the...

In this class we will analyze the economics and strategy of marketplaces and platforms for goods and services. We will consider the forces that have led to the proliferation of these marketplaces, as well as the economics behind which ones are...

2016-17

GSB students are eligible to report on work experience that is relevant to their core studies under the direction of the Director of the PhD Program. Registration for this work must be approved by the Director of the PhD Program and is limited to...

This class will analyze the economics of digital platform markets. The class format will consist of lectures and guest speakers. Concepts will be presented in the context of leading examples of internet and technology platforms such as online...

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...

In this class we will analyze the economics and strategy of marketplaces and platforms for goods and services. We will consider the forces that have led to the proliferation of these marketplaces, as well as the economics behind which ones are...

Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Conferences, Talks, and Speaking Engagements

  • Video: Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize 2016
    Susan Athey, Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business, came to Toulouse to receive the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize 2016. She tells us about her research "the internet and the news industry", and her relationship with TSE.
  • Video: Professor Susan Athey on the Dangers of Becoming Too Data-Driven
    Susan Athey, Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business, discusses how data-driven organizations still need to exercise intuition and judgement to ensure that short-term results don't override long-term interests.
  • Video: Designing Online Advertising Markets
    Susan Athey, Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business, discusses Designing Online Advertising Markets at the Algorithmic Game Theory and Practice talk held at the Simons Institute for the Theory Computing, UC Berkeley

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

Forbes India, June 8, 2018
Bloomberg, April 26, 2018
STEM Gem Book, June 6, 2016
AdExchanger, April 14, 2016
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 27, 2013

Insights by Stanford Business

May 23, 2018
Telling cats from dogs is easy. It’s the what-ifs that get problematic.
August 3, 2017
Consumers choose convenience over protection.
March 10, 2017
Susan Athey wants to help machine-learning applications look beyond correlation and into root causes.
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

February 27, 2018
“Effective leaders in the digital age will need to be mindful of the social consequences of technology.”
January 29, 2018
The Stanford GSB professor talks about her data-driven research and experiences as one of the first “tech economists.”
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.