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The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance

No 658:
Superstars without talent? The Yule distribution controversy

Laura Spierdijk and Mark Voorneveld ()

Abstract: Chung and Cox (1994) provided an intuitively appealing stochastic model which indicates that superstars may exist regardless of talent and which gives rise to the Yule distribution. We adopt a different empirical approach and test its goodness-of-fit using a parametric bootstrap and several powerful test statistics. Just like the discrete Pareto distribution, it is overwhelmingly rejected: it is a fairly accurate approximation of the lower quantiles of the superstar distribution, but overestimates the snowball effect that makes consumers purchase records of the most successful artists. In other words, the Yule distribution captures stardom, but not superstardom. A generalization of the Yule distribution provides an excellent fit in two of the three data sets.

Keywords: Superstardom; Yule distribution; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: J31; L82; Z11; (follow links to similar papers)

17 pages, April 25, 2007, Revised December 6, 2007

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