Economic implications of the digital economy

Joint conference hosted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Reserve Bank of Australia

Joint conference hosted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Reserve Bank of Australia

Event overview

9-10 March 2022
H.C. Coombs Centre
122A Kirribilli Avenue, Kirribilli NSW 2061

This conference is designed to provide a better understanding of the policy implications arising from digital technology-enabled disruption and explore the links to economic measurement and the information needs of policy makers.

Digital disruption leads to existing business models being supplanted by new models that bring more efficiency to the sale or distribution of products. Consumers are increasingly able to use technology to shop for products at lower prices with greater convenience - which has the impact of reducing the pricing power of businesses. This reduced pricing power, in turn, causes businesses to further intensify their focus on creating greater operational efficiencies.

It is likely that this disruption is becoming a greater factor in the economic outcomes of workers. Increasingly, workers with lower levels of educational attainment are seeing their jobs restructured or eliminated. Unless they have sufficient math and literacy skills, or are retrained, these workers will see their productivity and incomes decline as a result of disruption.

Further digital technology provides opportunities for how government interacts with citizens in the delivery of services such as education and health. It also provides the potential for new approaches to policy setting which are more targeted and evidence based than previously due to the availability of more timely and granular data.

The rise of the digital economy has also seen the rise of firms that do not explicitly charge their customers for the products they offer but instead use the data their customers (passively) provide to generate value. This creates questions for the measurement of their economic output. Further, the network benefits that accrue to firms that are dominant suppliers generates an oligopolistic structure for the industry, which has public-policy implications.


Professor Marian Baird

Dr Tom Barratt

Dr James Bishop

Professor Jeff Borland

Professor Robert Breunig

Dr Andrew Charlton

Associate Professor Michael Coelli

Mark Cully

Dr Catherine de Fontenay

Dr Guy Debelle

Professor Kevin Fox

Dr Caleb Goods

Elayne Grace

Dr David Gruen

Angela Hope

Dr Ralph Lattimore

Dr John Simon

Michael Smedes

Dr Alex Veen

Jacqui Vitas

Professor Elizabeth (Beth) Webster

Elise Whalan

Danielle Wood

Conference agenda

Day 1 – Wednesday 9 March 2022
TimeAgenda itemSpeakers
7:30amCoffee, tea and breakfast 
9:30amWelcome to Country 
9:40amOpening remarksDr David Gruen, Australian Bureau of Statistics
10:00amSession 1 – Digital implications for business operations and production: tax policy, international trade, production functions, capital investment, fintech
 Impact of digital innovation on new products, processes, and competitionProfessor Elizabeth (Beth) Webster, Swinburne University of Technology
Digital services taxesProfessor Robert Breunig, The Australian National University
Valuing data as an asset, implications for economic measurementMichael Smedes, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Head in the Cloud: Firm performance and cloud computingDr Catherine de Fontenay, Productivity Commission
Dr Ralph Lattimore, Productivity Commission
DiscussantMark Cully, Treasury
ChairDr John Simon, Reserve Bank of Australia
2:30pmSession 2 – Digital implications for the labour market: skills, education, wages, displaced workers, intermediaries
 The Australian labour market and the digital economyProfessor Jeff Borland, University of Melbourne
Associate Professor Michael Coelli, University of Melbourne
Navigating new forms of work and Australia's social security system: the experiences of Australian ride-share driversProfessor Marian Baird, University of Sydney
Dr Tom Barratt, Edith Cowan University
Dr Caleb Goods, University of Western Australia
Dr Alex Veen, University of Sydney
Digital skills in the Australian and international economiesAngela Hope, National Skills Commission
DiscussantDr James Bishop, Reserve Bank of Australia
ChairMichael Smedes, Australian Bureau of Statistics
4:30pmClose session 2 
6:00pmConference dinner 

Panel discussion

Dr David Gruen, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Dr Guy Debelle, Reserve Bank of Australia
Danielle Wood, Grattan Institute

Panel Moderator:
Dr Andrew Charlton, Accenture
8:30pmClose day 1 
Day 2 – Thursday 10 March 2022
TimeAgenda itemSpeakers
7:30amCoffee, tea and breakfast 
9:00amSession 3 – Digital implications for consumers: competition, utility, pricing power & inflation, households as producers, data sovereignty
 Big data and the digital economy: Benefits and pitfalls in the insurance industryElayne Grace, Actuaries Institute
The digital economy, welfare and productivity growthProfessor Kevin Fox, University of New South Wales
Looking under the lamppost or shining a new light: new data for unseen challengesMark Cully, Treasury
Elise Whalan, Treasury
DiscussantDanielle Wood, Grattan Institute
ChairJacqui Vitas, Australian Bureau of Statistics
12:30pmClosing remarks/wrap up/summary/key takeawaysDr John Simon, Reserve Bank of Australia
12:45pmLunch and depart 

Papers - Session 1

Papers - Session 2

Papers - Session 3

Back to top of the page