Economics, Fairness and Algorithmic Bias

In preparation for The Journal of Economic Perspectives

65 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2019 Last revised: 12 May 2019

See all articles by Bo Cowgill

Bo Cowgill

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Catherine E. Tucker

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS)

Date Written: March 27, 2019

Abstract

We develop an economic perspective on algorithmic fairness. Algorithmic bias and fairness issues are appearing in an increasing variety of economic research literatures. Our perspective draws from obvious connections to the economics of discrimination, crime, personnel and technological innovation; as well as less obvious connections to environmental economics, product safety regulation, behavioral economics and economics of information. We survey the small but growing literature in economics that directly examines this topic theoretically and empirically. Algorithms are not only growing in social impact, but also have attractive measurement properties that ease challenges for research economists. We conclude by discussing economic policy implications and future research directions.

Keywords: economics, algorithms, bias, fairness

JEL Classification: J7, J16

Suggested Citation

Cowgill, Bo and Tucker, Catherine E., Economics, Fairness and Algorithmic Bias (March 27, 2019). In preparation for The Journal of Economic Perspectives. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3361280 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3361280

Bo Cowgill (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Catherine E. Tucker

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS) ( email )

100 Main St
E62-536
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cetucker.scripts.mit.edu

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