Stanford University

To develop services that model how access to administrative data can facilitate reliable, reproducible, and groundbreaking research in economics

  • Amount $1,807,297
  • City Stanford, CA
  • Investigator Mark Cullen
  • Initiative Empirical Economic Research Enablers (EERE)
  • Year 2016
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Economics

Empirical economists tell tales of woe about the difficulties of accessing, processing, linking, and analyzing administrative data. Many have tried to address such impediments independently in the course of this or that research project. A piecemeal approach, however, is less effective than what might be accomplished by working together. This grant supports a project by a team of empirical economists and technologists at Stanford University to build and staff a new Stanford Data Core that will reduce social scientists’ struggles, and enhance their triumphs, with administrative data. Led by principal investigator Mark Cullen, the team has already gained access to over 230 administrative datasets, more than 100 server racks, and petabytes of data storage. The team will begin by harmonizing, documenting, cleaning, and adding to these datasets and then moving computations on them to the cloud in collaboration with Google. After the data have been pulled together, the team will test this new computational environment through the launch of four pilot research projects covering topics in economics from economic opportunity to contract labor markets. Though interesting in themselves, the projects will primarily serve as useful test cases to measure the functioning of the new computational environment. Finally, the project team is particularly keen on finding, sharing, and standardizing solutions to the legal challenges that encumber research on administrative data. Working with university lawyers at Stanford, the team will model what routine nondisclosure and data use agreements can and should look like. They will then promote this resource and these contracts to the wider scientific community.

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