NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Meng Liu

Washington University in St Louis
and MIT

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Washington University in St. Louis

NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2018Do Digital Platforms Reduce Moral Hazard? The Case of Uber and Taxis
with Erik Brynjolfsson, Jason Dowlatabadi: w25015
Digital platforms like Uber can enhance market transparency and mitigate moral hazard via ratings of buyers and sellers, real-time monitoring, and low-cost complaint channels. We compare driver choices at Uber with taxis by matching trips so they are subject to the same optimal route. We also study drivers who switch from taxis to Uber. We find: (1) drivers in taxis detour about 7% on airport routes, with non-local passengers experiencing longer detours; (2) these detours lead to longer travel times; and (3) drivers on the Uber platform are more likely to detour on airport routes with high surge pricing.
August 2018Does Machine Translation Affect International Trade? Evidence from a Large Digital Platform
with Erik Brynjolfsson, Xiang Hui: w24917
Artificial intelligence (AI) is surpassing human performance in a growing number of domains. However, there is limited evidence of its economic effects. Using data from a digital platform, we study a key application of AI: machine translation. We find that the introduction of a machine translation system has significantly increased international trade on this platform, increasing exports by 17.5%. Furthermore, heterogeneous treatment effects are all consistent with a substantial reduction in translation-related search costs. Our results provide causal evidence that language barriers significantly hinder trade and that AI has already begun to improve economic efficiency in at least one domain.
 
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