Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Markets for Roster Spots

Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution has this post on students trading spots in full classes. Next semester, I am slated to teach three sections of Principles of Microeconomics and all three of the sections are full. I've had several requests from students for overrides into one of my Micro sections, but I declined in each case because I don't have enough desks in the classroom.

Yesterday, I gave finals to two Macro sections yesterday and had two students tell me that they were enrolled in one of my Micro sections next semester (8:00) and wondered if they could get an override into one of my other sections (a 3:00 or a Monday night class). Both explained that when they registered for my class, the only class with open spots was my 8:00 class. They admitted that they didn't want to take a class so early in the morning. I declined to give them an override and told them to keep checking the availability of spots in those classes. When the last student left, I wondered if students traded things to acquire a spot in a full class. The answer is yes.

Students generally don't care for classes that start at 8:00 AM. The most popular start times are between 9 and 2 - Friday afternoon classes are not very popular either. One of the reasons it takes so long for the 8:00 classes to fill up relative to later classes is that the students pay the same price for each class, regardless of the time it's offered, although the demand for these classes (and the costs of providing them) are quite different from one another.