Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has pioneered research on the use of Google searches and other Big Data sources to get new insights into human behavior. In 2013, as a PhD student in economics at Harvard, he wrote a dissertation claiming that Google searches could improve measurements of racism and child abuse and predict voter turnout. Based on these insights, Google hired him as a data scientist. Since completing his dissertation, he has continued to explore the power of Google search data, both while at Google and as an op-ed writer for The New York Times.
Dr. Stephens-Davidowitz has used Google searches to measure son preference, self-induced abortion, sexual insecurity, depression, and therapy usage. He has also used Google searches to estimate how many men are gay; explore why we tell jokes; and learn how politicians can successfully calm an angry mob.
Dr. Stephens-Davidowitz has explored other new, digital datasets as well. He used Facebook likes to measure the key ages in child development; scraped Wikipedia to find what cities are best for producing superstars; analyzed the demographics of America's largest hate site; and studied ancestry.com data to learn what it really takes to make the NBA. He has published his work both in academic journals and as data journalism. He has given talks around the world discussing his research.
In high school, he wrote obituaries for the local newspaper, the Bergen Record, and was a juggler in theatrical shows. He now lives in New York City and is writing a book about his research for HarperCollins, scheduled for release in February 2017. He received his BA in philosophy, Phi Beta Kappa, from Stanford, and his PhD in economics from Harvard. He is a passionate fan of the Mets, Knicks, Jets, Stanford football, and Leonard Cohen.