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Measuring the Surplus of Superficiality: The Case of Dented Bumper Repair
Applied Economics Letters (2014)
  • Arthur Caplan, Utah State University
This article uses data from a survey administered to 400 automobile owners in northern Utah to estimate willingness-to-pay (WTP) for removal of a superficial dent in the bumper of a typical owner’s vehicle. A unique set of controls are used to estimate the determinants of WTP for this particular manifestation of superficiality. Both parametric and nonparametric measures of meanWTP are also derived. To the extent that a driver’s demand for superficiality represents a market failure, e.g., due to imperfect information, or, in a normative sense, the influence of wasteful social norms, our welfare measures represent estimates of the potential social deadweight loss associated with the purchase of this particular good. In this case, potential social deadweight loss is defined as total surplus from the market for dented-bumper repair that remains ‘untransferred’ to markets for non-(or less)superficial goods. Best guess estimates of the annual potential deadweight loss from dented-bumper repair in the US fall in the range of $122 000 to $609 000, depending upon the estimated number of superficially dented bumpers per year.
  • superficiality,
  • willingness-to-pay,
  • deadweight loss
Publication Date
Citation Information
Arthur Caplan. "Measuring the Surplus of Superficiality: The Case of Dented Bumper Repair" Applied Economics Letters Vol. 21 Iss. 14 (2014)
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