A group of economists at the University of Chicago and University of Oxford working with researchers at Uber found the company’s main service generated $6.8 billion in consumer surplus in the United States last year. Steve Levitt, in a September 16 UChicago news article, notes that "I think our findings should change the policy discussion. To date, the conversation has revolved around the idea that there are people who are hurt by the service, mainly taxicab medallion owners. There's [been] little discussion of the benefit to consumers.” The team, consisting of Steve Levitt, Robert Metcalfe, Robert Hahn, Peter Cohen, and Jonathan Hall, used data from almost 50 million customer sessions in the company’s four largest U.S. markets - Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco - to calculate the consumer surplus generated by Uber. The findings were released as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper this month.
The Advances with Field Experiments 2016 conference at the University of Chicago will gather a group of academics to present the best and most innovative new work using field experiments to address economic questions. Scheduled keynote speakers will be James J. Heckman (University of Chicago), Juanna Joensen (University of Chicago), and Jonathan Meer (Texas A&M University); access the full conference program schedule and details, and follow us on Twitter @UChi_Economics (hashtag #AFE2016) and Facebook/AFE2016.
Using field experiments, UChicago Economics' John List and Steve Levitt discovered something unusual about gamers' purchasing patterns: discounts tied to buying large quantities of virtual goods have little impact on profitability and do not increase the number of customers making purchases. According to Steve Levitt, "I think there is a lot to gain from partnerships between cutting edge firms and academic researchers...[M]any firms are now doing randomized experiments, but mostly testing incremental changes. This project was an example of using experimental methods to test a much more radical shift in strategy." Read full story »