Economics 282: Economics of Big Data

Professor Christiaan Hogendorn

Spring 2015

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Course Policies and Grading Information

I. Big Data Big Ideas

Jan. 22 Th 1. Introduction
David Auerbach, "You Are What You Click: On
Microtargeting: Why privacy and anonymity are being
violated online by an unstoppable process of data
profiling," The Nation, February 13, 2013.
Jan. 29 Th 2. Applications of Big Data
● Mayer-Schönberger, V., & Cukier, K. (2013). Big data:
A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Chapters 1 and 6.
Right-click this link to save pdf file
Data Size Matters Berkeley Data Science infographic, 2013.
Feb. 3 T 3. Data Science
Robin Bloor, "A Data Science Rant," August 12, 2013.
Chris Anderson, "The End of Theory: The Data Deluge
Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete," WIRED
MAGAZINE: 16.07, June 23, 2008.
Assignment 1 due.
Feb. 5 Th 4. Software for Big Data
Will Stanton, "Becoming a data 'hacker,'" Will Stanton's
Data Science Blog,
June 29, 2014.
Jeffrey Stanton, "Getting Started with R," Chapter 3 in
An Introduction to Data Science, open source ebook.
(Hereafter called "Stanton.")

II. Building Blocks

Feb. 10 T 5. Introduction to R and Data Frames
Stanton, Chapter 5 "Rows and Columns."
● Stanton, beginning of Chapter 9 "Onward with R-Studio."
Assignment 2 due. Data for assignment.
Feb. 12 Th 6. Conditional Means
Stanton, Chapter 6, "Beer, Farms, and Peas."
Joshua Anderson and Jorn-Steffen Pischke, appendix to
Chapter 1 in Mastering 'Metrics, Princeton University Press, 2015.
Feb. 17 T 7. Facebook
Stanton, Chapter 8, "Big Data? Big Deal!"
Assignment 3 due. Data for assignment.
Feb. 19 Th 8. Regression
Stanton, Chapter 16, "Line Up, Please"
Feb. 24 T 9. Data Mining
Fun spurious correlations
Assignment 4 due. Optional Data for assignment.
Feb. 26 Th 10. Machine Learning
Stanton, Chapter 17, "Hi Ho, Hi Ho - Data Mining We Go"
March 3 T 11. Google Flu Trends
Lazer, D. M., Kennedy, R., King, G., and Vespignani, A.
(2014), The parable of Google Flu: Traps in big data
analysis. Science, 343(14 March).
Bohannon, J. (2015). Credit card study blows holes
in anonymity. Science, 347(6221), 468–468.

III. Industrial Organization
of Big Data

March 5 Th 12. Big Data Business Models
● Product differentiation
● Need for intermediaries. INRIX case.
March 24 T 13. Big Data and Economic Growth
James Glanz, Is Big Data an Economic Big Dud?
New York Times, August 17, 2013.
Carvalho, Vasco M. 2014. "From Micro to Macro via Production
Networks." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(4): 23-48.
March 26 Th 14. Price Discrimination
Benjamin Shiller (2014). First Degree Price Discrimination
Using Big Data, working paper no. 58, Brandeis University,
Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
Adam OzimekWill Big Data Bring More Price Discrimination,
Forbes, September 2013.
March 31 T 15. The FTC and Big Data
Akiva Miller (2014). What Do We Worry About When We Worry
About Price Discrimination? The Law and Ethics of Using Personal
Information for Pricing. Journal of Technology Law & Policy, 19, 41.
US Federal Trade Commission. (2014). Data brokers: A call for
transparency and accountability.
Midterm Assignment due.
April 2 Th 16. Credit Cards and Big Data

IV. Econometrics and Big Data

April 7 T 17. Marshall's Tides
John Sutton (2002) "The Standard Paradigm, Chapter 1 in
Marshall's Tendencies: what can economists know? MIT Press.
April 14 T 18. The Experimental Ideal
Joshua Anderson and Jorn-Steffen Pischke, Chapter 1
in Mastering 'Metrics, Princeton University Press, 2015.
April 16 Th 20. Causality

V. Big Data and Economics

April 21 T 21. Media Slant
Gentzkow, M. and Shapiro, J.M., 2010. What drives media
slant? Evidence from US daily newspapers. Econometrica,
78(1), pp.35–71.
April 23 Th 22. Long Tail of Google News
Hengyi Zhu '15 An Examination of the Long-Tail Hypothesis in
the Online News Market: The Case of Google News,
Wesleyan University.
April 28 T 23. Nowcasting
Steve Scott and Hal Varian "Bayesian Variable Selection for
Nowcasting Economic Time Series ," Working paper 2014.
Assignment 5 due. Data for assignment: group 1 group 2 group 3 group 4
April 30 Th 24. Machine Learning paper
Peysakhovich, A., & Naecker, J. (2015). Machine learning
and behavioral economics: Evaluating models of choice under
risk and ambiguity. Available at SSRN 2548564.
May 5 T 25. Conclusion
May 15 Final Project and Midterm Revision due.