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Nonrivalry and the Economics of Data

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  • Charles I. Jones
  • Christopher Tonetti

Abstract

Data is nonrival: a person’s location history, medical records, and driving data can be used by any number of firms simultaneously. Nonrivalry leads to increasing returns and implies an important role for market structure and property rights. Who should own data? What restrictions should apply to the use of data? We show that in equilibrium, firms may not adequately respect the privacy of consumers. But nonrivalry leads to other consequences that are less obvious. Because of nonrivalry, there may be large social gains to data being used broadly across firms, even in the presence of privacy considerations. Fearing creative destruction, firms may choose to hoard data they own, leading to the inefficient use of nonrival data. Instead, giving the data property rights to consumers can generate allocations that are close to optimal. Consumers balance their concerns for privacy against the economic gains that come from selling data to all interested parties.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles I. Jones & Christopher Tonetti, 2019. "Nonrivalry and the Economics of Data," NBER Working Papers 26260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26260
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    Cited by:

    1. Acemoglu, Daron & Makhdoumi, Ali & Malekian, Azarakhsh & Ozdaglar, Asuman, 2019. "Too Much Data: Prices and Inefficiencies in Data Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 14225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Ufuk Akcigit & Sina T. Ates, 2019. "Ten Facts on Declining Business Dynamism and Lessons from Endogenous Growth Theory," NBER Working Papers 25755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Maryam Farboodi & Roxana Mihet & Thomas Philippon & Laura Veldkamp, 2019. "Big Data and Firm Dynamics," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 109, pages 38-42, May.
    4. S. Nageeb Ali & Gregory Lewis & Shoshana Vasserman, 2019. "Voluntary Disclosure and Personalized Pricing," NBER Working Papers 26592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Derryl D'Silva & Zuzana Filkova & Frank Packer & Siddharth Tiwari, 2019. "The design of digital financial infrastructure: lessons from India," BIS Papers, Bank for International Settlements, number 106, 12-2019.
    6. Wendy C.Y. LI & NIREI Makoto & YAMANA Kazufumi, 2019. "Value of Data: There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch in the Digital Economy," Discussion papers 19022, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    7. Seth G. Benzell & Erik Brynjolfsson, 2019. "Digital Abundance and Scarce Genius: Implications for Wages, Interest Rates, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 25585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ufuk Akcigit & Sina T. Ates, 2019. "Ten Facts on Declining Business Dynamism and Lessons from Endogenous Growth Theory," CESifo Working Paper Series 7849, CESifo.
    9. Maria Savona, 2019. "The Value of Data:Towards a Framework to Redistribute It," SPRU Working Paper Series 2019-21, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
    10. Sand-Zantman, Wilfried & Dosis, Anastasios, 2019. "The Ownership of Data," TSE Working Papers 19-1025, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Sep 2020.
    11. Bank for International Settlements, 2020. "The dawn of fintech in Latin America: landscape, prospects and challenges," BIS Papers, Bank for International Settlements, number 112, 12-2019.
    12. Nikander, Pekka & Elo, Tommi, 2019. "Will the data markets necessarily fail? A position paper," 30th European Regional ITS Conference, Helsinki 2019 205201, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    13. Ramadorai, Tarun & Uettwiller, Antoine & Walther, Ansgar, 2019. "The Market for Data Privacy," CEPR Discussion Papers 13588, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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