2021-2022 Incubator | The Data Revolution: New Econometric Tools for the Big Data Era


This year’s Griffin Applied Economics Incubator explores the potential implications of using machine learning and big data to understand economic questions.

For years, firms have achieved incredible successes in harnessing the power of bigger and better datasets using novel techniques from machine learning, computer science, and statistics. This revolution has helped make substantial progress on long-standing problems, such as speech and image recognition.

Although many questions in economics are fundamentally distinct from these applications, they could conceivably benefit from the big data and machine learning revolution. Examples include assessing causal effects of policy interventions, modeling new types of economic data such as text or networks, and targeting interventions to specific groups or markets.

Can off-the-shelf methods be used to answer such economic questions, or do they need to be modified in fundamental ways? And what type of theoretical guarantees do these methods possess? More broadly, can the knowledge from disciplines outside of economics be used to exploit the power of big data, and be successfully applied to areas of economic research?

The Incubator will bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers and thought leaders to unravel some of the methodological and substantive questions which arise in the age of big data.

Learn more about the Incubator by visiting the Publications, Events, and Visitors pages.  

2021-2022 Advisory Board

Stéphane Bonhomme
The Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser Professor in Economics and the College (at Chicago since 2013); Fellow of the Econometric Society (2017).

Azeem Shaikh
Ralph and Mary Otis Isham Professor in Economics and the College and Thornber Research Fellow (at Chicago since 2007); Fellow of The Econometric Society (2018); Editor, Journal of Political Economy. [Leave of Absence Winter 2022]

James Evans
Professor; Director, Knowledge Lab; Faculty Director, Masters Program in Computational Social Science; External Professor, Santa Fe Institute

Chris Hansen
Wallace W. Booth Professor of Econometrics and Statistics

Mike Franklin
Liew Family Chairman of Computer Science, Senior Advisor to the Provost for Computing and Data Science

Rina Foygel Barber
Louis Block Professor; Department of Statistics and the College; Member: Committee on Computational and Applied Mathematics (CCAM)