Griffin Applied Economics Incubator

Applying economics to drive change.

The Kenneth C. Griffin Applied Economics Incubator is a hub for generating new initiatives and ideas that drive broad-based thought and policy change. 

The Griffin Applied Economics Incubator aims to elevate the status of the University of Chicago as a hub for generating key initiatives that drive broad-based thought and policy changes. Each academic year, the Incubator is dedicated to a specific topic of importance to society that stands to benefit from focused research attention and ideation. Scholars from all disciplines, as well as practitioners and policy makers are engaged in the Incubator’s activities.

Incubator 2022-2024

Uncertainty is pervasive in many of the most important challenges for economic policy. All too often, uncertainty considerations get shunted to the background of economics. Although we live in a “data-rich” world, the ambition of “evidence-based policy” can only achieve success through the lenses of economic models. This is especially true in economic dynamics as the evidence can be rich along some dimensions and sparse in others. The use of explicit models opens the door to policy analyses that push beyond historical experience, but challenges remain in how to achieve this in ways that respect the limits to our understanding.

At the same time, our models in economics are at times stark simplifications and open the door to the challenge of how to use them in sensible ways. Models necessarily require subjective inputs, which in many settings we only know rather crudely. Pandemic and climate change policy are two prominent examples in which uncertainty considerations would seem to be vital inputs into policy design. An important aim of this research is to embrace uncertainty in broader terms than is typical in economic and econometric analyses. Recent advancements in decision theory are helpful in providing coherent approaches, but we want to push well beyond axioms and conceptual challenges. Through this research, we will aim to both enhance the quantitative toolkit for studying economic dynamics under uncertainty and to engage in revealing applications. Indeed, we expect a substantial amount of learning by doing in this process.


 Incubator Activities


The Incubator will generate a range of publications, including journal articles, opinion pieces, and books, ensuring that the ideas generated by its participants reach fellow scholars, policymakers, and members of the public.

Research Grants

Financial support for new research on The Data Revolution – including novel approaches in econometrics, computer science, statistics, mathematics and computational science – is a core component of the Incubator.

Visitors Program

Intellectual exchange is essential to producing innovative ideas and establishing new research partnerships. The Incubator will welcome visitors and collaborators from around the world.


Through seminars, academic conferences, and other events, the Incubator will encourage interaction and scholarship across a variety of disciplines to capitalize on opportunities for building a network to disseminate scientific breakthroughs in data-intensive research.

OCE Summer School

As part of the Optimization-Conscious Econometrics (OCE) Conference, the Griffin Applied Economics Incubator will host the Optimization-Conscious Econometrics Summer School.

 News + Announcements

We are pleased to announce the list of selected participants and their papers for the 2024 Chicago Causal Inference Student Conference. View the participants and their papers here

U.S. Climate & Energy Roadmap” – Evidence-based, practical policies to tackle today’s greatest energy and climate challenges

Policymaking Is Not a Science (Yet)” – John List and Dana Suskind on Freakonomics Radio

What cutting-edge neuroscience tells us about early childhood development” – Dr. Dana Suskind in the Brookings Institution’s Chalkboard

Basing Laws on Nothing Is Easier Than Using Evidence” – John List and Eszter Czibor in The Atlantic

University Of Chicago Professors Dana Suskind And John List Go Beyond The Word Gap” – Forbes

Questions about the The Kenneth C. Griffin Applied Incubator? For general inquiries, contact Diana Smith at