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The Effect of Sunk Costs on the Outcome of Alternating-Offers Bargaining between Inequity-Averse Agents

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  • Christian Ewerhart

Abstract

The paper analyzes the infinite-horizon alternating-offers bargaining game between agents with inequity-averse preferences. Without prior investments, the model predicts a shift of the outcome towards equal division. Asymmetric investments affect the ex-post bargaining outcome, giving an advantage to the party that contributed more. Under suitable circumstances, this effect may significantly mitigate the hold-up problem. In fact, in a symmetric setup, if production is sufficiently profitable, and parties are sufficiently patient, then the first-best investment levels can be approximated without a contract.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 203.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:203

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Keywords: Alternating-offers bargaining; inequity aversion; hold-up problem;

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  1. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  2. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
  3. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114, January.
  4. Troger, Thomas, 2002. "Why Sunk Costs Matter for Bargaining Outcomes: An Evolutionary Approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 375-402, February.
  5. Ellingsen, Tore & Robles, Jack, 2000. "Does Evolution Solve the Hold-up Problem?," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 358, Stockholm School of Economics.
  6. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1984. "Involuntary Unemployment as a Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1351-64, November.
  7. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-136, December.
  8. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
  9. Ochs, Jack & Roth, Alvin E, 1989. "An Experimental Study of Sequential Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 355-84, June.
  10. Donald B. Hausch & Yeon-Koo Che, 1999. "Cooperative Investments and the Value of Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 125-147, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Christian Korth & Stefan Napel, 2008. "Fairness, Price Stickiness, and History Dependence in Decentralized Trade," Working Papers 064, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs & Kosfeld, Michael, 2005. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Trust and Social Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 1641, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Tania Singer & Ernst Fehr, 2005. "The Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 340-345, May.
  4. Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2005. "Bargaining under Incomplete Information, Fairness, and the Hold-Up Problem," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 57, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  5. Siemens, Ferdinand von, 2005. "Bargaining under Incomplete Information, Fairness, and the Hold-Up Problem," Discussion Papers in Economics 518, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2005. "The Behavioural Effects of Minimum Wages," CEPR Discussion Papers 5115, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2009. "Can Contracts Solve the Hold-Up Problem? Experimental Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7205, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Rasch, Alexander & Wambach, Achim & Wiener, Kristina, 2012. "Bargaining and inequity aversion: On the efficiency of the double auction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 178-181.
  9. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.

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