ABS and RBA Joint Conference – 2022 Economic Implications of the Digital Economy

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 policymakers.

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.


Session 1: Digital Implications for Business Operations and Production: Tax Policy, International Trade, Production Functions, Capital Investment, Fintech
Session 2: Digital Implications for the Labour Market: Skills, Education, Wages, Displaced Workers, Intermediaries
Panel Discussion
Session 3: Digital Implications for Consumers: Competition, Utility, Pricing Power and Inflation, Households as Producers, Data Sovereignty