The Changing Economics of Knowledge Production

Big data technologies change the way in which data and human labor combine to create knowledge. Is this a modest technological advance or a transformation of our basic economic processes? Using hiring and wage data from the financial sector, we estimate firms’ data stocks and the shape of their knowledge production functions. Knowing how much production functions have changed informs us about the likely long-run changes in output, in factor shares, and in the distribution of income, due to the new, big data technologies. Using data from the investment management industry, our results suggest that the labor share of income in knowledge work may fall from 44\% to 27\% and we quantify the corresponding increase in the value of data.

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