The economic value of popularity: Evidence from superstars in the National Basketball Association

Link to SSRN Working Paper. Submitted. [press: Outside the Lines (live televised interview)MIT Sloan Management Review, Business Insider​, NBC Sports, The Action Network]

Many industries are impacted by "superstars," where a select few individuals add tremendous economic value. This paper estimates fan willingness-to-pay for superstars in the National Basketball Association, and, in particular, distinguishes between demand for player skill versus player popularity. Using microdata from an online secondary ticket marketplace and plausibly exogenous player absence announcements, I find 4-16% ($7-$42) reductions in prices when superstars miss games. The results suggest popularity is a more significant determinant of willingness-to-pay than skill, and in line with previous literature on superstars, popularity predicts price impacts convexly. This paper provides a novel methodology to estimate superstar value, and has implications for leagues, franchises, and ticket companies.

Estimating worldwide benefits from a genetically improved banana: The use of CRISPR-Cas9 to control Fusarium Wilt 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. Submitted. 

A big challenge to agricultural research is enhancing plant resistance for new plant diseases. Plant pathogens emerge sporadically and are a major source of crop production losses. In this paper, we develop a methodology to assess the economic benefits and impacts of developing and commercially introducing a genetically improved crop for an emerging plant disease. This framework incorporates both the dynamics of the spread of the disease as well as the diffusion of the solution in deriving the resulting expected net benefit, as well as its impact on farmers, producers who are affected by the disease, and producers who are not affected. We consider the time lag between the emergence of a disease and the availability of the new technology, which may be affected by regulatory and technical uncertainty. We apply our framework to the global market for bananas, which continues to be heavily impacted by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense Tropical race 4 (FocTR4). One possible solution to this problem is to use CRISPR-CAS9 gene modification technologies to develop disease-resistant varieties, yet timing of availability is uncertain due to both technological and regulatory uncertainties. We simulate welfare losses in the global market for bananas under different scenarios of disease and adoption of a solution. Our results indicate that without adoption of a solution, welfare losses range from US$ 40-83 billion, but depending on how quickly a solution is adopted, these losses can be reduced by 71-94%. The expected benefit of adopting a solution is equal to $45.37 billion dollars.

Works in Progress

Entertainment utility and outcome uncertainty: Behavioral evidence from consumer attention

(Job Market Paper -- Draft in Progress). 


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

(with Hal Gordon). 


The impact of high-yield technologies on the cocoa market in West Africa

(with Felipe de Figueiredo Silva, Matthew Potts, and David Zilberman).

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

(with Andy Hultgren and Derek Wolfson). 

The impacts of recycling policies on convenience: Evidence from the CalRecycle program in California

(with Peter Berck, Gabriel Englander, Shelley He, Janet Horsager, and Sofia B. Villas Boas). 

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© Scott Kaplan, 2020.