Baseball Economics

Dennis Coates and Brad R. Humphreys lay waste to the claim that DC baseball will be an economic boon to humanity in their Cato Briefing Paper, “Caught Stealing: Debunking the Economic Case for D.C. Baseball.”
I find wealth transfers to millionaires, well, unjust, don't you?
Meanshile, in other baseball economics news, Dan Akst pitching in at Marginal Revolution reports on a new paper taking into account the existence value of professional sports franchises for the residents of municipalities:

. . . according to economists Jerry Carlino and Ed Coulson, whose highly readable recent paper on the subject tries to take account of the intangible value people derive from sports teams. “We found that once quality of life benefits are included in the calculus,” they write, “the seemingly large public expenditure on new stadiums appears to be a good investment for cities and their residents.” The authors liken having an NFL team to having an old-growth forest–it's something people enjoy even if they never visit. This is to say nothing of the pleasure and unity they derive from rooting, discussing, etc.

Yes, and I can imagine a world in which torturing Michael Moore on live televison would provide huge amounts of enjoyment to huge masses of people. It's something people might enjoy knowing had happened, even if they didn't happen to see it. To say nothing of the pleasure and unity they derive from rooting, discussing, etc. A good investment!
A eugenics program aimed at engineering supermodels might be good investment too, since it's so nice to look at beautiful people, and it's nice to know that they're out there even when you're not looking at them. You can fantasize about them, talk about them. Great fun. The state should look into it! Good looking people might be like old growth forests.
And, now that I think about it, it's pretty clear that a huge number of Americans derive great pride and pleasure from knowing that the USA is the strongest nation in the world with the most kick-ass military. So maybe tthe cost of war in terms of dead soldiers and billions of dollars is a bargain relative to the utility value of American pride in (the perception of) our insuperable dominance.
Anyway, yes! Large public expenditures on DC baseball. Let's go ahead and do that!

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

7 thoughts

  1. Actually, according to the World Values Survey and the World Happiness Index, Religious people in Scandinavia score higher on happiness then non-religious people in Scandinavia. This is true for every country in the world, not just the US. High divorce rates is one of the things that reduces US happiness levels. However, If one averages US happiness levels on all the cross-country surveys, the US still score in the top 10th percentile.

  2. There is a BIG problem with your article here. You draw faulty conclusions because you compare two variables without keeping other factors constant (you don’t bring them into your model). In other words your relationships are spurious. Two of the strongest factors in explaining happiness is income and freedom and control over ones life. These three factors have dramatically increased in Europe over the last 30 years as economic freedom has increased. This explains the increased happiness. See the Econmists Quality of Life Index, The Legatum Prosperity Index and Stevenson and Wolfers (2008) for an explanation (don’t take my word for it).

  3. Several people who implement their faith are happy in other aspects of their lives and those who don’t are sometimes the one that have attain true happiness.

  4. I was wondering if anyone had any theories on Ireland. It is the most religious of the European countries on the religious participation chart by a large margin. A Satisfaction with Life Index Map – Map published in White, A. (2007). A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: A Challenge To Positive Psychology? Psychtalk 56, 17-20.(also on the wikipedia page for happiness) puts Ireland in the happiest of five brackets. That is higher than France and Germany and Spain and the UK, all significantly less religious as a country. It is in the same happiness bracket as Norway and Finland and Sweden and Iceland. How can those Irish people be so happy?

  5. Here’s the question asked.
    How would you characterize yourself?
    A) A religious nut
    B) Not a complete nut but an intelligent skeptic
    C) A stupid person who believes in God
    D) An intelligent person who sees the folly of religion.
    Now if the subject answers A, B, or C then you asks him:
    How would you characterize you emotional life:
    A) Totally miserable
    B) Dreadfully unhappy
    C) Deeply depress with life
    D) The small happiness I get out of life is hoping there is no God.
    If he doesn’t answer A, B, or C but D then you ask him:
    How would you characterize you emotional life:
    A) Ecstatically happy
    B) Totally happy
    C) Quite happy
    D) Couldn’t be happier

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