Working Papers

Putting a price on popularity: Evidence from superstars in the National Basketball Association 

Forthcoming at Economic Inquiry (Accepted Version)

This paper estimates spectator willingness-to-pay (WTP) for superstars in the National Basketball Association. Using microdata from an online secondary ticket marketplace and player absence announcements, I find 4-22% ($4-$41) reductions in prices when superstars are announced to miss games. Additionally, LeBron James and Stephen Curry exhibit larger impacts in away games: 21% ($73/ticket) for James and 18% ($50/ticket) for Curry. The findings suggest popularity is a better predictor of WTP than productivity, and in line with existing superstar literature, popularity predicts price impacts convexly. This paper provides a novel methodology to estimate superstar value, generating implications for the entertainment industry.

Entertainment utility from skill and thrill (Current Version)

This paper uses revealed preference methods to estimate demand for non-instrumental information in entertainment. I do this by examining the "thrill" associated with the trajectory of an event, which includes both suspense and surprise, and the "skill" of performers in an event. I apply the theory presented in Ely et al. (2015, JPE) to conduct an empirical analysis that examines the effect of thrill on consumer attention. I extend the Ely et al. (2015, JPE) framework by examining spectator preferences for characteristics of the performers themselves, which I call "skill." I use game-specific, high-temporal frequency television ratings data from the National Basketball Association (NBA) to measure spectator responses to skill and thrill. First, I find that a doubling of skill present in a game leads to an approximately 11% increase in initial viewer turnout, while the expected thrill of a game has no statistically significant impact. Next, I show that thrill during a game increases viewership by 7-30%, while a doubling of skill on the court during a specific portion of a game leads to a 1.9-2.4% increase in viewership, depending on specification. Interestingly, I find a negative interactive effect between suspense and skill, suggesting that heightened suspense leads to differentially higher viewership with lower skill on the court. The findings suggest that skill of information-conveying agents primarily impacts viewership on the extensive margin (across games), while thrill is highly time-dependent and primarily impacts viewership on the intensive margin (within games). These findings have important implications for entertainment media companies, including leagues and television broadcasters, and advertisers.

Estimating worldwide benefits from improved bananas resistant to Fusarium Tropical Race 4

(with Felipe de Figueredo Silva, Freddy Magdama, Matthew D. Potts, Ramon Leonardo Espinel Martinez, and David Zilberman).

Working paper available upon request

In this paper, we assess the economic welfare implications of developing and introducing a genetically improved crop for an emerging plant disease. We estimate the effect of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense Tropical race 4 (FocTR4) on global banana production. Our model incorporates both the dynamics of the disease spread as well as the diffusion of a solution to determine the impact of a time lag between technology emergence and adoption on the expected welfare of various stakeholders. We simulate welfare losses by country for bananas under different scenarios of disease spread and solution adoption. The results suggest that while consumers are the major losers from Fusarium Wilt (TR4), heterogeneity across countries dictates the distributional impacts among producers. We find that producers in unaffected and mildly affected countries can potentially lose from diffusion of the solution, while producers in early adopting and severely affected countries gain. Our findings suggest the distribution of benefits and costs across stakeholders from adoption may play a major role in the push to seek R&D and acceptance of a solution.

Works in Progress

Association of the Oakland and San Francisco sugar-sweetened beverage taxes with beverage sales and health and cost outcomes

(with Justin White, Sanjay Basu, Kristine Madsen, Dean Schillinger, and Sofia B. Villas Boas).


Are consumers willing to pay to avoid price uncertainty? Evidence from the vehicle leasing market

(with Andy Hultgren and Derek Wolfson). 

The impact of environmental quality on recreation: Evidence from secondary ticket marketplace microdata for outdoor professional sporting events

(with Hal Gordon).