Generative AI for Economic Research: Use Cases and Implications for Economists
Journal of Economic Literature (Forthcoming)
Generative AI, in particular large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT, has the potential to revolutionize research. I describe dozens of use cases along six domains in which LLMs are starting to become useful as both research assistants and tutors: ideation and feedback, writing, background research, data analysis, coding, and mathematical derivations. I provide general instructions and demonstrate specific examples of how to take advantage of each of these, classifying the LLM capabilities from experimental to highly useful. I argue that economists can reap significant productivity gains by taking advantage of generative AI to automate micro tasks. Moreover, these gains will grow as the performance of AI systems across all of these domains will continue to improve. I also speculate on the longer-term implications of AI-powered cognitive automation for economic research. The online resources associated with this paper offer instructions for how to get started and will provide regular updates on the latest capabilities of generative AI that are useful for economists.