Stanford University


Liran Einav: Assessing the Gains from E-Commerce

Liran Einav: Assessing the Gains from E-Commerce
November 30, 2020
Virtual Event

On November 30, 2020, Professor Einav shared findings from recent research that examined consumer benefits due to the rise in online shopping. The study leveraged an extensive dataset of consumer purchases from Visa credit and debit card transactions between 2007 and 2017.


E-commerce represents a rapidly growing share of consumer spending in the United States. We use transaction-level data on credit and debit cards from Visa, Inc. between 2007 and 2017 to quantify the resulting consumer surplus. We estimate that e-commerce spending reached 8% of consumption by 2017, yielding consumers the equivalent of a 1% permanent boost to their consumption, or over $1,000 per household per year. While some of the gains arose from avoiding travel costs of buying from local merchants, most of the gains stemmed from substituting to merchants available online but not locally. Higher income cardholders gained more, as did consumers in more densely populated counties.

View research paper (PDF)

About Professor Liran Einav

Liran Einav is a professor of economics at Stanford University and a research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is directing the Industrial Organization Program.

Einav’s areas of specialization are industrial organization and applied microeconomics. An important strand of his work is focused on insurance markets, including the development of empirical models of insurance demand and pricing, and empirical analyses of the implications of adverse selection and moral hazard. Much of Einav’s current work is focused on healthcare markets.

Einav also studied consumer behavior and the pricing of subprime auto loans, competition in the motion picture industry, strategic commitment, and peer-to-peer internet markets. Einav is currently a co-editor at the American Economic Review, after serving as a co-editor at Econometrica and AEJ Applied.

Einav received his undergraduate degree in computer science and economics from Tel Aviv University (Israel) in 1997, and his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 2002.

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