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Susan Athey

Susan Athey
Born (1970-11-29) November 29, 1970 (age 45)
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality United States
Institution Stanford University
Field Microeconomics
Alma mater Stanford Graduate School of Business
Duke University
Influences Paul Milgrom
Donald John Roberts
Edward Lazear
Awards John Bates Clark Medal (2007)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Susan Carleton Athey (born November 29, 1970) is an American economist. She is The Economics of Technology Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.[1] Prior to joining Stanford, she was a professor at Harvard University. She is the first female winner of the John Bates Clark Medal.[2] She currently serves as a long-term consultant to Microsoft as well as a consulting researcher to Microsoft Research.


Athey was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Rockville, Maryland.

Athey attended Duke University from the age of 16. As an undergraduate at Duke, she completed three majors, in economics, mathematics, and computer science. She got her start in economics research as a sophomore, working on problems related to auctions with Professor Robert Marshall. She was involved in a number of activities at Duke and served as treasurer of Chi Omega sorority and as president of the field hockey club.

Athey graduated with a Ph.D. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business at the age of 24.[3] Her thesis was supervised by Professors Paul Milgrom and Donald John Roberts.[2]

Athey is married to economist Guido Imbens.

Academic career

Athey's first position was as an Assistant, Associate Professor and Castle Krob Career Development Chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for six years before returning to Stanford's Department of Economics as Professor holding the Holbrook Working Chair for another five years. She then served as Professor of Economics at Harvard University until 2012, when she returned to Stanford Graduate School of Business, her alma mater.

Research contributions

Athey's early contributions included a new way to model uncertainty (the subject of her doctoral dissertation) and understand investor behavior given uncertainty, along with insights into the behavior of auctions. Athey's research on decision-making under uncertainty focused on conditions under which optimal decision policies would be monotone in a given parameter. She applied her results to establish conditions under which Nash equilibria would exist in auctions and other Bayesian games.

Athey's work changed the way auctions are held. In the early 1990s Athey uncovered the weaknesses of an overly lenient dispute mechanism through experiences selling computers to the U.s. government at auctions, discovering that open auctions which resulted in frequent legal disputes followed by settlements were actually rife with collusion, e.g., auction winners shared a portion of their spoils with losers who had cooperated in bidding.[4] She also aided British Columbia in the design of the pricing system used for publicly owned timber.[2] She also published articles about auctions for online advertising and advised Microsoft about the design of their search advertising auctions.[5]

Professional service

Athey has served as an associate editor of several leading journals, including the American Economic Review, Review of Economic Studies, and the RAND Journal of Economics, as well as the National Science Foundation economics panel, and she also served as an associate editor for Econometrica, Theoretical Economics, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. She is a past co-editor of the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy and American Economic Journal: Microeconomics. She was the chair of the program committee for the 2006 North American Winter Meetings, and has served on numerous committees for the Econometric Society, the American Economic Association, and the Committee for the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. She is a member of President Obama's Committee for the National Medal of Science.[6]

Awards and honors

  • State Farm Dissertation Award (1995)
  • Elaine Bennett Research Award (2000) (This award is given every other year to a young woman economist who has made outstanding contributions to any field.)
  • John Bates Clark Medal (2007)
  • Fellow of the Econometric Society (2004)
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2008)[7]
  • Stanford University Leiberman Fellowship
  • Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2012)
  • Honorary Degree, Duke University (2009) [8]
  • Fisher-Shultz Lecture, Econometric Society (2011)



  1. "Enriching the Experience". Stanford Graduate School of Business. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Priest, Lisa (April 23, 2007). "Economist who aided Canada wins top honour". Globe&Mail, Toronto. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  3. Nasar, Sylvia (April 21, 1995). "The Top Draft Pick in Economics; A Professor-to-Be Coveted by Two Dozen Universities". New York Times. 
  4. Whitehouse, Mark (2007-04-21). "Economist Breaks New Ground As First Female Winner of Top Prize". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  5. Ito, Aki (June 26, 2013). "Stanford Economist Musters Big Data To Shape Web Future". Bloomberg. 
  6. "NMS". 
  7. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  8. "Duke Names Honorary Degree Recipients". Duke University. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 

External links

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