Tech Economics

In recent years, economists have played an increasingly important role in high technology firms. Their understanding of economic systems and their experience disentangling causation from correlation in empirical data complement the skills of data scientists coming from other backgrounds.  In addition, their knowledge of incentives and market design makes them indispensable for organizations developing or operating in the new kinds of markets, platforms, and economies created by our digitized world.

These developments are not just restricted to the high tech sector--the explosion of digitized data is creating new challenges and opportunities for businesses, governments, and non-profits of all kinds.

As a result economics training is expanding to include new areas such as computer programming and machine learning. As the premier economics department in San Francisco, the world's high-tech hub, we aim to take the lead in updating economics education to reflect these new developments. Whether students hope to join the many established firms and numerous startups located within a few blocks of campus, or want to find innovative ways to fight poverty in the developing world, our goal is to equip them with the tools they need.

In the coming weeks we look forward to announcing significant changes to our undergraduate and graduate programs that will reflect these changes.

In the meantime, here are some resources for students interested in learning more about this developing sector.

Hunting for a job in High Tech, try "Digitization Economist" (Harvard Business Review)

Economics (and Economists) in Tech Companies, by Susan Athey (Stanford Business School) and Michael Luca (Harvard Business School)

Should your tech firm have an economists? by Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed.

Newsletter on Tech Economics from Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist of Glassdoor.com'

NBER Project on the Economics of Digitization. Contains reading lists, course syllabi, data sources, and other resources for students and researchers working in this area.

Conference

Economics in the Age of Algorithms, Experiments, and A.I. San Francisco, October 28-30. This is the second annual Tech Economics conference, organized by the National Association of Business Economists and sponsored by Amazon, Google, IBM, MIcrosoft, Netflix, Uber, Zillow, CBRE, CoreLogic, Facebook, Haver Analytics, Indeed, and Realtor.com.

News Articles on Tech Economics

"Soon there may be more economists at tech companies than in policy schools" Quartz, October 31, 2018

"Uber's Secret Weapon is its Team of Economists" Quartz, October 14, 2018

"The World’s Top Economists Want to Work for Amazon and Facebook" Bloomberg.

"All of a Sudden, Economists Are Getting Real Jobs" Noah Smith on Bloomberg.

"Goodbye, Ivory Tower. Hello, Silicon Valley Candy Store." The New York Times.

"Economics in the age of big data" Science

"How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All" The Atlantic

"How we all became lab rats for American corporations and theoretical economists" The Los Angeles Times

"Chief economists are the new marketers" The Washington Post

"Economists Adding Up At Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google" Investors Business Daily

Discussions in Online Forums

Quora: "Why do technology companies hire economists, and what is their contribution? What kinds of problems do they work on?"

Medium:"4 Reasons Why Economists Make Great Data Scientists (And Why No One Tells Them)"

Podcasts

Susan Athey: Machine-Learned Economics.  On Andrew McAfee's "Minds and Machines."

What Can Uber Teach Us About the Gender Pay Gap? This great podcast from Freakonomics illustrates the potential for collaboration between high tech firms and economists to research important social issues.

Why Uber is an Economist's Dream, also from Freakonomics, provides another illustration of how new sources of data from the digitized economy provide new windows into classic economic questions.

Susan Athey on Machine Learning, Big Data, and Causation, from EconTalk.