Call for Papers
Economics of Autonomous and Electric Vehicles
Stanford, CA: June 6-7, 2019

Potential future deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) and growing deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) for both commercial and personal transportation has economic and policy implications that cut across traditional field boundaries within economics. To promote research on AVs and EVs, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will convene a conference that will bring together economic researchers working on issues related to AVs and EVs to share findings and seed new research ideas. The conference, which will be organized by Ryan Kellogg (University of Chicago and NBER) and Jing Li (MIT), will feature research paper presentations as well as panel discussions featuring representatives from industry and government.

Research themes that the workshop will examine include, but are not limited to:

  • The industrial organization of AV fleets. What are the tradeoffs between centralized versus decentralized vehicle ownership? What are the economics of AV ride-hailing platforms? Where might we anticipate future market power concerns?
  • Interactions of AVs with the urban landscape. How might AVs change households' or firms' location choices within a metropolitan area? Will AVs encourage density or sprawl? What is the role for urban policy in stimulating infrastructure that supports AVs? Will AVs complement or substitute for public transportation options?
  • Energy and environmental consequences of AVs and EVs. What are the potential effects of AVs and EVs on fuel consumption and for emissions of CO2 and local air pollutants? Are there complementarities between AVs and vehicle electrification?
  • Consumer adoption. How are consumers' decisions about AVs and EVs different from those regarding conventional vehicles? What are the main barriers to large-scale adoption?
  • Commercial transport. How will AVs affect long-haul and local freight trucking, in terms of volumes shipped, fleet size, and employment? What will be the broader economic consequences of reduced overland transportation costs?
  • The industrial organization of AV and EV R&D. What are the tradeoffs in firm-specific R&D efforts compared to collaborative efforts such as research joint ventures or industry-wide consortia? Do AV and EV R&D have different economies of scale or other economic characteristics compared to "traditional" vehicle technologies?
  • Public policy. Which policies are likely to impact the diffusion of AVs and EVs, and the rate of technological advance for these vehicles? What economic considerations need to be considered in designing public policies that target vehicle technology development and adoption?

Since AV technology is still in its infancy and has not yet been even narrowly adopted, the organizers welcome papers that combine evidence from existing transportation activities with theory that will provide insight into how AVs might be deployed and used. Papers might, for example, consider the economics of ride-hailing platforms and the potential interactions between ride-hailing and other transportation modes, since this may offer lessons for AV deployment.

The organizers welcome submissions of both empirical and theoretical research, and encourage submissions by scholars who are early in their careers, who are not NBER affiliates, and who are from groups that are under-represented in the economics profession. To be considered for inclusion on the program, papers must be uploaded here by January 20, 2019.

While complete papers are preferred, the organizers will also consider submissions of extended abstracts. Papers that have already been accepted for publication and that will be published by May 2019 are not eligible for presentation. Authors chosen to present papers will be notified in early February, 2019.

The conference will begin the morning of Thursday, June 6, 2019, and conclude by early afternoon on Friday, June 7. There will be a conference dinner on Thursday evening. The NBER will pay a modest honorarium to the authors of each selected paper, and cover the economy class travel and hotel expenses for two authors per paper and for discussants and panelists. Questions about this conference may be addressed to

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