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Lucky Numbers in Tough Times

How superstitious are you? And just how much are your superstitions worth? A new study by Travis Ng, Terence Chong and Xin Du attempts to put a price on superstition by analyzing license plate auctions in Hong Kong. They found that plates with an extra “8” (a “lucky” number in Hong Kong) sold for 63.5 percent higher on average; an extra (unlucky) “4” decreased the average plate value by 11 percent. The authors also found that three- and four-digit plates with an extra “4” are particularly shunned in bad economic times: “A ‘4’ is bad, but it is even worse in bad times.” Interestingly, while the economic climate affects the premium associated with extra “8”‘s on three-digit plates, the effect doesn’t hold for four-digit plates.[%comments]