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.[2] Prior to joining Stanford, she was a professor at Harvard University. She is the first female winner of the John Bates Clark Medal.[4] 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.[5] Her thesis was supervised by Professors Paul Milgrom and Donald John Roberts.[4]

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.[6] She also aided British Columbia in the design of the pricing system used for publicly owned timber.[4] She also published articles about auctions for online advertising and advised Microsoft about the design of their search advertising auctions.[7]

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.[8]

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)[9]
  • Stanford University Leiberman Fellowship
  • Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (2012)
  • Honorary Degree, Duke University (2009) [10]
  • Fisher-Shultz Lecture, Econometric Society (2011)


  • —; Segal, Ilya (2013). . Econometrica 81 (6): 2463–2485. doi:. 
  • —; Coey, Dominic; Levin, Jonathan (2011). "Setasides and Subsidies in Timber Auctions". American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 5 (1): 1–27. 
  • —; Ellison, Glenn (2011). . Quarterly Journal of Economics 126 (3): 1213–1270. doi:. 
  • —; Levin, Jonathan; Seira, Enrique (2011). "Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Theory and Evidence from Timber Auctions". Quarterly Journal of Economics 126 (1): 207–257. doi:. 
  • —; Bagwell, Kyle (2008). . Econometrica 76 (3): 493–540. doi:.  (Accepted subject to final revisions)
  • —; Miller, David (2007). . Theoretical Economics 2 (3): 299–354. doi:. 
  • —; Imbens, Guido W. (2007). "Discrete Choice Models with Multiple Unobserved Choice Characteristics". International Economic Review 48 (4): 1159–1192. doi:. 
  • —; Imbens, Guido W. (2006). "Identification and Inference in Nonlinear Difference-In-Difference Models". Econometrica 74 (2): 431–498. doi:. 
  • —; Atkeson, Andrew; Kehoe, Patrick J. (2005). "The Optimal Degree of Monetary Policy Discretion". Econometrica 73 (5): 1431–1476. doi:. 
  • —; Bagwell, Kyle; Sanchirico, Chris (2004). "Collusion and Price Rigidity". Review of Economic Studies 71 (2): 317–349. doi:. 
  • —; Haile, Philip (2002). "Identification in Standard Auction Models". Econometrica 70 (6): 2107–2140. doi:. 
  • —; Stern, Scott (2002). . RAND Journal of Economics (Blackwell Publishing) 33 (3): 399–432. doi:. JSTOR . PMID . 
  • ——— (2002). "Monotone Comparative Statics Under Uncertainty". Quarterly Journal of Economics 117 (1): 187–223. doi:. 
  • —; Bagwell, Kyle (2001). . RAND Journal of Economics (Blackwell Publishing) 32 (3): 428–465. doi:. JSTOR . 
  • ——— (2001). "Single Crossing Properties and the Existence of Pure Strategy Equilibria in Games of Incomplete Information". Econometrica 69 (4): 861–890. doi:. 
  • —; Levin, Jonathan (2001). "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions". Journal of Political Economy 109 (2): 375–417. doi:. 
  • —; Schmutzler, Armin (2001). . RAND Journal of Economics (Blackwell Publishing) 32 (1): 1–26. doi:. JSTOR . 
  • —; Avery, Chris; Zemsky, Peter (2000). (PDF). American Economic Review 90 (4): 765–786. doi:. 
  • —; Schmutzler, Armin (1995). . RAND Journal of Economics (Blackwell Publishing) 26 (4): 557–574. doi:. JSTOR .