June 5, 2020

Announcing the winners of the Measuring Economic Impact in the Digital Economy research awards

By: Meta Research

In January 2020, Facebook launched a request for research proposals that address the economic impact of digital technologies. For this RFP, we pledged $1 million in research award funding as part of Facebook’s continued goal of supporting independent research that helps us better understand and measure the impact of the digital economy. Today, we are announcing the winners of these research awards.


“The survival of small and medium-sized businesses hinges on their being able to operate and reach as many customers as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Arturo Gonzalez, Director of Advocacy and Research at Facebook. “Part of the solution is being online to the fullest extent possible.

“Facebook believes that research and the academic community play an important role in analyzing the impact of digital tools for small and medium-sized businesses. Our goal for this RFP was to foster further innovation in academia in this space, to accelerate the production of high-quality, independent, and data-driven research that, when all is said and done, advances the goal of helping small businesses.”

We were especially interested in proposals that addressed the economic consequences and implications of developing digital technologies for small businesses. We were additionally interested in research projects in the following topics, although we encouraged creative approaches beyond these areas:

  • A taxonomy of the digital economy, including subsectors within the digital economy
    • The demarcations between the analog and digital economies
    • Shortcomings (if any) of national accounts and other official statistics of GDP
  • Theoretical models of economic impact of the digital economy
    • How to obtain causal impacts and/or identify biases found in noncausal estimates
    • Incorporate the feedback effects due to the multisided nature of platforms
    • What needs to be solved for in order to estimate the model
  • Empirical application of theoretical models of causal economic impact
    • The biases (if any) present in reduced-form empirical model
    • Limitations of the model and results, including in scope (geographic, size of business), due to data availability or other issues

We received 57 proposals from 16 countries. Thank you to all the researchers who took the time to submit a proposal, and congratulations to the award recipients. For more information about areas of interest, eligibility, requirements, and more, visit the application page.

Research award winners

Digital economy and regional inequalities in the UK
Raquel Ortega-Artiles, Emmanouil Tranos, Giulia Occhini, Levi Wolf, Tasos Kitsos (University of Birmingham)

The expansion of the internet and economic growth worldwide
Paul Raschky, Klaus Ackermann, Simon Angus (Monash University)

GDP-B: A new well-being metric in the era of the digital economy
Erik Brynjolfsson, Avinash Collis, Jae Joon Lee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

The impact of online listings on small business performance
Abhishek Nagaraj, Gauri Subramani, Michael Luca (University of California, Berkeley)

Measuring the impact of the digital economy in Canada
Sarah Doyle, David Wolfe (Ryerson University)

Modeling and measuring the economic impacts of digital platform innovation
Johannes M. Bauer, Steven S. Wildman, Tiago Sousa Prado (Michigan State University)

Social sharing and the growth of small businesses: Measurement and strategy
Tianshu Sun (University of Southern California)