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Pricing and Pack Size Brand, Quantity, and Cost Considerations in Pricing Multipacks of Toothpaste

By Stephanie Wiehe

The US market for toothpaste, like many other goods, is shifting towards selling
in bulk. Multipacks of toothpaste require quantity discounts to incentivize consumers, making buying in bulk a great deal for the savings-minded toothpaste-shopper. It is more difficult to understand, however, producers’ willingness to sell multipacks of toothpaste, when margins are necessarily slimmer than single tubes due to quantity discounts. This paper explores the consumer’s decision in purchasing toothpaste as an interaction between savings on price and inventory considerations, like shopping and carrying costs. My model combines aspects of prior works on second degree price discrimination and quantity discounts with alterations to fit the intricacies of the market for toothpaste. The model’s predictions support the possibility of pack size as a tool for second degree price discrimination as shopping and carrying costs  constitute two markets with different price elasticities of demand for single and multipacks of toothpaste. This work adds to the existing literature on storable goods and non-linear pricing and brings a new economics-based approach to a question faced by toothpaste producers.

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Advisors: Professor Allan Collard-Wexler, | JEL Codes: L11; L42; D4

ICT Behavior at the Periphery: Exploring the Social Effect of the Digital Divide through Interest in Video Streaming

By Erik W. Hanson and Justin C. LoTurco

We investigate the factors that influence changes in consumer behavior with regard to video streaming. We focus our analysis on the effect of bandwidth impairment to explore a potential consequence of the digital divide. To measure the change in relative popularity of video streaming services, we use Google Trends data as a proxy. We then investigate whether broadband speed improvements in rural vs. urban regions affect the proxy differently. We find that increasing the broadband speeds in rural regions appears to stimulate greater interest in video streaming than equivalent speed increases in urban regions.

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Advisors: Professor Michelle Connolly, Professor Grace Kim | JEL Codes: C33; J11; L96

Does Media Coverage of Sexual Assault Cases Cause Victims to Go to the Police? Evidence from FBI Data and Google Trends

By Harry Elworthy

This paper investigates the effect that national news coverage of prominent sexual assaults has on the reporting decisions of sexual assault victims. Estimates are based on time series data of reports made to police stations in the US from 2008 to 2016 and Google Trends data of search volume, along with an identification strategy that uses a number of individual high profile sexual assault allegations and related events as instruments. By removing assaults that occurred on the day that they were reported, I estimate the effect of coverage only on the reporting of assaults, and not on assaults themselves. A significant positive effect of news coverage on sexual assault reporting is found using several specifications. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that there were between 31 and 121 additional reports of sexual assault for each of the 38 high profile events captured. No evidence is found to suggest that these additional reports of sexual assault have different arrest rates to other reports, indicating that there are not a significant number of false reports. This paper adds to current literature on the sexual assault reporting decision by considering the effect of news coverage and by using different methods of inference to previous papers.

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Advisor: Professor Patrick Bayer | JEL Codes: D91, J16, K42, L86, Z13

Investigating a Case of Alleged Collusion in Michigan Public Oil and Gas Lease Auctions

By Lucas Do

The state of Michigan administers oil and gas lease auctions semiannually through the Department of Natural Resources. In June 2012, the international news outlet Reuters published allegations of bid-rigging following the Department’s May 2010 auction. This paper empirically investigates the validity of Reuters’ allegations by analyzing auction bid sheets from 2008 to 2018 as well as other data reflecting market conditions over time. To this end, I first formulate a benchmark structural model of bidders’ valuations and estimate it with auction data from a period during which I assume no collusion occurred. Then, I extend the benchmark model by endogenizing bidders’ decision to collude. Using the extended model and the estimated benchmark parameters, I apply the simulated method of moments to solve for the collusive probability that “best” explains the observed bids during the alleged period of collusion. After discovering strong evidence for bid-rigging, I run counterfactual simulations to estimate the revenue damage caused to the state of Michigan by this non-competitive bidding behavior. I find that the hypothetical revenue damage, summed over the entire alleged collusive period, totals over $450 million. However, although these findings lend support to Reuters’ allegations and are contrary to the Department of Justice’s conclusion in 2014 after they had probed the case, they should be approached only with caution, given the limitations of the available data on the potential bidders.

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Advisors: Professor Jame Roberts, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: L4, D44, L71

The Impact of Collegiate Athletic Success and Scandals on Admissions Applications

By William J. Battle-McDonald

This paper examines how the quantity and quality of admissions applications to Division 1 colleges and universities were affected by two non-academic factors: (1) performance of a school’s men’s basketball and football teams; and (2) scandals associated with these athletic programs. Admissions data from 2001 – 2017 were compared to team performance during their football and basketball seasons in order to understand how these non-academic factors contribute to an individual’s decisions to apply for admission. A multivariate linear regression model with school and year fixed effects supported the hypothesis that athletic success positively affects the quantity of applications, increasing them by up to 3% in basketball and 11% in football in the following application period. Seasonal football success was also shown to have negative impacts on the distribution of standardized testing scores of future applicant classes, however these scores were shown to increase when a team played their best season in five or more years. Additional analysis of the effects of athletic program scandals reveals a significant negative effect on the number of applications received, although a deep dive into a few of the most prominent scandals suggests that the benefits associated with violating NCAA rules may, under the right circumstances, be well worth the risk.

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Advisor: Dr. James Roberts | JEL Codes: I23, J24, L82, L83, Z2

Evaluation of the Impact of New Rules in FCC’s Spectrum Incentive Auction

By Elizabeth Lim, Akshaya Trivedi and Frances Mitchell

On March 29, 2016, the FCC initiated its first ever two-sided spectrum auction. The auction closed approximately one year later, having repurposed a total of 84 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum. The “Incentive Auction” included three primary components: (1) a reverse auction where broadcasters bid on the price at which they would voluntarily relinquish their current spectrum usage rights, (2) a forward ascending clock auction for flexible use wireless licenses which determined the winning bids for licenses within a given geographic region, and (3) an assignment phase, where winning bidders from the forward auction participated in single-bid, second price sealed auctions to determine the exact frequencies individual licenses would be assigned within that geographic region. The reverse auction and the forward auction together constituted a “stage.” To guarantee that sufficient MHz were cleared, the auction included a “final stage rule” which, if not met, triggered a clearing of the previous stage and the start of a new stage. This rule led to a total of four stages taking place in the Incentive Auction before the final assignment phase took place. Even at first glance, the Incentive Auction is unique among FCC spectrum auctions. Here we consider the estimated true valuation for these licenses based on market conditions. We further compare these results to more recent outcomes in previous FCC spectrum auctions for wireless services to determine if this novel auction mechanism
impacted auction outcomes.

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Advisor: Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: L5, O3, K2, D44, L96

Regulatory Uncertainty: The Impact of the 2015 Open Internet Order on Broadband Infrastructure Investment

By Dane Bourcy Burkholder and Chin Jie Lim

This paper analyzes the impact of the United States Federal Communication’s (FCC) March 2015 Open Internet Order (OIO) on broadband infrastructure investment outcomes such as changes in speed of services, market entry. We find that higher broadband investment levels deter potential entrants and may weed out competition amongst incumbent ISPs from December 2014 to December 2016. The 2015 OIO appears to have negatively impacted the probability of an ISP entering a census block for the first time by 7.17% during any six-month time periods from June 2015 to December 2016 compared to the time period from June 2010 to December 2014.

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Advisor: Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D21, D25, D42, L20, L50, L96

Increased Foreign Revenue Shares in the United States Film Industry: 2000 – 2014

By Victoria Lim

The American film industry, which has historically been driven by the domestic market, now receives an increasing proportion of its revenue from abroad (foreign share)To determine the factors influencing this trend, this paper analyzed data from 11 countries of 2,337 American films released during 2000  2014Both film and country attributes were analyzed to determine each attribute’s effect on foreign share, whether its effect size has changed over time and whether each attribute has changed in frequency amongst films released. The results identified six attributes, star actors, sequels, releases in top markets, release time lag, GDP growth and a match in languagethat contributed to the increase in foreign share over this period

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Advisor: James Roberts, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: F40, L82, Z11 | Tagged: Foreign Share, International Box Office Revenue, Motion Picture Industry

Predicting Transfer Values in the English Premier League

By Dylan Newman

This paper examines factors that affect the transfer value of players transferred into the English Premier League from 20092015. The analysis begins by examining what factors are significant in determining a player’s projected transfer fee based on the website Transfermarkt.com as well as the actual fee that the player was sold for. The paper goes on to find that competition level and a player’s form are not statistically significant in models built to determine a player’s transfer value. Quantile regression is then used to illustrate that there is a superstar effect with a forward’s goal’s scored in the transfer market. 

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Advisor: Kent Kimbrough, Peter Arcidiacon | JEL Codes: L83, Z21 | Tagged: English Premier League, Quantile Regression, Soccer Transfer Fee

The Effect of Social, Cultural, and Political Values on Entrepreneurial Perceptions and Venture Creation: A Global Investigation

By Repton Salisbury

The effect of entrepreneurial activity on economic development has been researched thoroughly. New firm creation spurs economic growth by creating employment opportunities, cultivating innovation, and encouraging competition. Globally, there are countless areas that could benefit from a livelier entrepreneurial ecosystem. So how does a government or population first spur entrepreneurial activity? An entrepreneur’s perceptions are among the most powerful factors that impact the life or death of a new venture, but the determinants that influence how these perceptions first form are still largely unknown. Using survey data collected by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in 2010 across the United States, Japan, Switzerland, Israel, United Kingdom, Peru, Russia, Iran, and China, I conduct binary logistic regressions of individual level characteristics, social ideals, cultural norms, human development, and other environmental attributes on the most important perceptions of entrepreneurs. These perceptions have been identified by previous research as an entrepreneur’s perception of local opportunities, internal skills, and fear of failure in creating a new venture. I find that several social, cultural, and political values have a significant effect on the psychological behavior of nascent entrepreneurs.

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Advisor: Alison Hagy, Grace Kim | JEL Codes: L2, L26, O17 | Tagged: Culture, Entrepreneurship, Perceptions, Venture Creation

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu