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Substitutability, experience, and the value disparity: Evidence from the marketplace

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  • John List

Abstract

Several experimental studies have recently provided strong evidence that the basic independence assumption, which is used in most theoretical and applied economic models to assess the operation of markets, is rarely appropriate. These results, which clearly contradict closely held economic doctrines, have led some influential commentators to call for an entirely new economic paradigm to displace conventional neoclassical theory. This paper refutes the generality of these experimental findings by going to a well-functioning marketplace and examining more than 350 individual decisions across various incentive compatible elicitation mechanisms. The data suggest that individuals with significant marketlike experience behave largely in accordance with neoclassical predictions: any observed WTA/WTP disparity amongst this group can be explained by neoclassical arguments. In light of these findings, I believe that we have discarded neoclassical explanations of the value disparity too quickly. More narrowly, these empirical results have important implications for stated valuation methods, such as contingent valuation.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Framed Field Experiments with number 00175.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00175

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Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Hanemann, W Michael, 1991. "Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: How Much Can They Differ?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 635-47, June.
  2. John List, 2003. "Does market experience eliminate market anomalies?," Natural Field Experiments 00297, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. John A. List, 2003. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 9736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Randall, Alan & Stoll, John R, 1980. "Consumer's Surplus in Commodity Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 449-55, June.
  5. Knez, Peter & Smith, Vernon L & Williams, Arlington W, 1985. "Individual Rationality, Market Rationality, and Value Estimation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 397-402, May.
  6. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  7. Jack Knetsch & Fang-Fang Tang & Richard Thaler, 2001. "The Endowment Effect and Repeated Market Trials: Is the Vickrey Auction Demand Revealing?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 257-269, December.
  8. Coursey, Don L & Hovis, John L & Schulze, William D, 1987. "The Disparity between Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 679-90, August.
  9. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  10. Jinhua Zhao & Catherine L. Kling, 1998. "Real Options and the WTP/WTA Disparity," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 99-wp206, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  11. Catherine L. Kling & John A. List & Jinhua Zhao, 2003. "WTP/WTA Disparity: Have We Been Observing Dynamic Values but Interpreting Them as Static?, The," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 03-wp333, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  12. List, John A & Shogren, Jason F, 1998. "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1350-55, December.
  13. Morrison, Gwendolyn C, 1997. "Resolving Differences in Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 236-40, March.
  14. Bateman, Ian J, et al, 1997. "A Test of the Theory of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 479-505, May.
  15. Knetsch, Jack L & Sinden, J A, 1987. "The Persistence of Evaluation Disparities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 691-95, August.
  16. Kolstad, Charles D. & Guzman, Rolando M., 1999. "Information and the Divergence between Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 66-80, July.
  17. Knetsch, Jack L., 1990. "Environmental policy implications of disparities between willingness to pay and compensation demanded measures of values," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 227-237, May.
  18. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-84, December.
  19. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, Kenneth E., 2002. "A Review of WTA/WTP Studies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 426-447, November.
  20. Brookshire, David S & Coursey, Don L, 1987. "Measuring the Value of a Public Good: An Empirical Comparison of Elicitation Procedures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 554-66, September.
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Cited by:
  1. John List, 2006. "Using hicksian surplus measures to examine consistency of individual preferences: Evidence from a field experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00177, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Jeremy Clark & Lana Friesen, 2006. "The Causes of Order Effects in Contingent Valuation Surveys: An Experimental Investigation," Working Papers in Economics 06/06, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  3. Kingsley, David C. & Brown, Thomas C., 2013. "Value learning and the willingness to accept–willingness to pay disparity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 473-476.
  4. John A. List, 2011. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies? The Case of Exogenous Market Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 313-17, May.
  5. Edward J. Lopez & W. Robert Nelson, 2005. "The Endowment Effect in a Public Good Experiment," Experimental 0512001, EconWPA.
  6. James K. Hammitt, 2013. "Positive versus Normative Justifications for Benefit-Cost Analysis: Implications for Interpretation and Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(2), pages 199-218, July.
  7. Makokha, Stella Nabwile & Karugia, Joseph Thuo & Staal, Steven J. & Oluoch-Kosura, Willis, 2006. "Valuation of Cow Attributes by Conjoint Analysis: A Case Study in Western Kenya," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25752, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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