Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Martin Boileau

Abstract

With the explosive growth in cryptocurrencies over the last couple of years, the cost of mining these technologies (the process through which users devote CPU power to operate the underlying blockchains) have similarly exploded. This paper examines one overarching question regarding this issue – what factor or factors explain the geographic distribution of cryptocurrency nodes (mining operations) across the world? In exploring this question, this research considers electricity price, internet access, Tor network relays, and others. Using node distribution data for Bitcoin and Ethereum – the two largest cryptocurrencies – this paper analyzes cross-sectional and panel data regression models, and establishes that electricity price has not played a significant role in this distribution up to this point, and concludes that the historical association between Tor relays and Bitcoin use has had a much greater impact. Lastly, this paper discusses the broader implications of its findings, and the potential areas of research for further understanding of this field.

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