Portrait image for M. Keith Chen

M. Keith Chen

Bing (’86) and Alice Liu Yang Endowed Term Chair in Management and Innovation; Professor of Behavioral Economics and Strategy
“In my research I try to find basic, simpler, and more general drivers of human behavior when prevailing explanations are unnecessarily complex.”
Entrepreneurs Hall C-513
Areas of Expertise:
  • Behavioral Decision Theory
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Intertemporal Choice


Keith Chen is a professor of behavioral economics at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and the Bing (’86) and Alice Liu Yang Endowed Term Chair in Management and Innovation. His research blurs traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing big data tools to bear on problems at the intersection of economics, psychology and biology.

Chen’s early work tackled topics that fall outside of traditional economics, such as primate decision making and the link between language and economic behavior. More recently, his work has studied a unique digital trace data set with precise smartphone location information for millions of anonymous individuals over time. He has produced a stream of work that uses these data to study a variety of issues from the spread of COVID-19 to racial disparities in voting wait times and in police exposure.

Chen also advises numerous companies on topics at the intersection of behavioral economics, business strategy and dynamic pricing. Most recently, he was the head of economic research for Uber, where, among other projects, he redesigned Uber’s dynamic “surge” pricing model.

At Anderson, Chen teaches the MSBA core course in competitive analytics and Ph.D. behavioral economics.


Ph.D. Economics, 2003, Harvard University
B.S. Mathematics, 1998, Stanford University

Grants and Awards

2021: Bing (’86) and Alice Liu Yang Endowed Term Chair in Management and Innovation
2021: UCLA Anderson MSBA Teaching Award
2018: Nature, Editor's Choice for “The Effect of Partisanship on Close Family Ties”
2017-2018 UCLA Anderson Teaching Innovation Award
2013: Science, Editors’ Choice for “The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior”
2011: Yale SOM Alumni Association, Annual Teaching Award
2008: Roger F. Murray Prize, The Institute for Quantitative Research in Finance
2008: American Law and Economics Review, Distinguished Article Prize
2006–2011: National Science Foundation Research Grant

Select Published Papers

Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data
Joint with Kareem Haggag, Devin G. Pope, & Ryne Rohla, The Review of Economics and Statistics, November 2022

Nursing Home Staff Networks and COVID-19
Joint with Judith Chevalier & Elisa Long, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 2021

The Value of Flexible Work: Evidence from Uber Drivers
Joint with Judith Chevalier, Peter Rossi, & Emily Oehlsen, Journal of Political Economy, December 2019

Politics Gets Personal: Effects of Political Partisanship and Advertising on Family Ties
Joint with Ryne Rhola, Science, June 2018

The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets
The American Economic Review, April 2013

How Choice Affects and Reflects Preferences: Revisiting the Free-Choice Paradigm
Joint with Jane Risen, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, October 2010

Modeling a Presidential Prediction Market
Joint with Jonathan E. Ingersoll & Edward H. Kaplan, Management Science, August 2008

Do Harsher Prison Conditions Reduce Recidivism? A Discontinuity-Based Approach
Joint with Jesse Shapiro, American Law and Economic Review, June 2007

How Basic are Behavioral Biases? Evidence from Capuchin-Monkey Trading Behavior
Joint with Venkat Lakshminarayanan & Laurie Santos, Journal of Political Economy, June 2006