Michael Webb
Job Market Candidate

Stanford University
Department of Economics
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305
Cell: (617) 444-9137

Curriculum Vitae


Primary: Labor
Secondary: Innovation, Economics of Technology

Expected Graduation Date:

June 2020

Google Scholar Citations


Nicholas Bloom (Primary)

Matthew Gentzkow

Pete Klenow

Luigi Pistaferri

John Van Reenen

Working Papers

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Labor Market [Job Market Paper] [Data]

Job Market Paper: coming soon!

Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? [VOX summary]

(with Nick Bloom, Chad Jones and John Van Reenen)

R&R at American Economic Review

In many models, economic growth arises from people creating ideas, and the long-run growth rate is the product of two terms: the effective number of researchers and their research productivity. We present a wide range of evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply. A good example is Moore's Law. The number of researchers required today to achieve the famous doubling every two years of the density of computer chips is more than 18 times larger than the number required in the early 1970s. Across a broad range of case studies at various levels of (dis)aggregation, we find that ideas — and the exponential growth they imply — are getting harder to find. Exponential growth results from large increases in research effort that offset its declining productivity.

Some Facts of High-Tech Patenting

(with Nick Short, Nick Bloom, and Josh Lerner)

NBER Working Paper, July 2018

Patenting in software, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence has grown rapidly in recent years. Such patents are acquired primarily by large US technology firms such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, and HP, as well as by Japanese multinationals such as Sony, Canon, and Fujitsu. Chinese patenting in the US is small but growing rapidly, and world-leading for drone technology. Patenting in machine learning has seen exponential growth since 2010, although patenting in neural networks saw a strong burst of activity in the 1990s that has only recently been surpassed. In all technological fields, the number of patents per inventor has declined near-monotonically, except for large increases in inventor productivity in software and semiconductors in the late 1990s. In most high-tech fields, Japan is the only country outside the US with significant US patenting activity; however, whereas Japan played an important role in the burst of neural network patenting in the 1990s, it has not been involved in the current acceleration. Comparing the periods 1970-89 and 2000-15, patenting in the current period has been primarily by entrant assignees, with the exception of neural networks.


A Cross-Country Comparison of Dynamics in the Large Firm Wage Premium

(with Emanuele Colonnelli, Joacim Tåg, Stefanie Wolter)

AEA Papers and Proceedings, May 2018

We provide stylized facts on the existence and dynamics over time of the large firm wage premium for four countries. We examine matched employer-employee micro-data from Brazil, Germany, Sweden, and the UK, and find that the large firm premium exists in all these countries. However, we uncover substantial differences among them in the evolution of the wage premium over the past several decades. Moreover, we find no clear evidence of common cross-country industry trends. We conclude by discussing potential explanations for this heterogeneity, and proposing some questions for future work in the area.

Effectiveness of Dietary Policies to Reduce Noncommunicable Diseases

(with Ashkan Afshin, Renata Micha, Simon Capewell, Laurie Whitsel, Adolfo Rubinstein, Dorairaj Prabhakaran, Marc Suhrcke, and Dariush Mozaffarian)

In: Disease Control Priorities (third edition). Washington, DC: World Bank. November 2017.

This chapter reports that in nearly every region, suboptimal diet remains the leading risk factor for poor health; hunger and malnutrition result in substantial burdens and contribute to the incidence and prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Specific population interventions, including taxation and subsidies, food regulations, mass media campaigns, and school and workplace interventions, appear effective in improving diet, and many such interventions may prove highly cost-effective (efficient health gained per dollar spent) or even cost saving (health gains with reduced overall spending).

Cost Effectiveness of a Government Supported Policy Strategy to Decrease Sodium Intake: Global Analysis Across 183 Nations

(with Saman Fahimi, Gitanjali M Singh, Shahab Khatibzadeh, Renata Micha, John Powles, Dariush Mozaffarian)

The BMJ, January 2017, 356: p. i6699

We quantified the cost effectiveness of a government policy combining targeted industry agreements and public education to reduce sodium intake in 183 countries worldwide. We studied a "soft regulation" national policy that combines targeted industry agreements, government monitoring, and public education to reduce population sodium intake, modeled on the recent successful UK program. Worldwide, a 10% reduction in sodium consumption over 10 years within each country was projected to avert approximately 5.8 million DALYs/year related to cardiovascular diseases, at a population weighted mean cost of I$1.13 per capita over the 10 year intervention. The intervention is projected to be highly cost effective worldwide, even without accounting for potential healthcare savings.