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Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets

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  • Alvin E. Roth

Abstract

This essay examines how repugnance sometimes constrains what transactions and markets we see. When my colleagues and I have helped design markets and allocation procedures, we have often found that distaste for certain kinds of transactions is a real constraint, every bit as real as the constraints imposed by technology or by the requirements of incentives and efficiency. I'll first consider a range of examples, from slavery and indentured servitude (which are much more repugnant now than they once were) to lending money for interest (which used to be widely repugnant but no longer is), and from bans on eating horse meat in California to bans on dwarf tossing in France. An example of special interest will be the widespread laws against the buying and selling of organs for transplantation. The historical record suggests that while repugnance can change over time, it can persist for a very long time, although changes in institutions that reflect repugnance can occur relatively quickly when the underlying repugnance changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvin E. Roth, 2007. "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 37-58, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:21:y:2007:i:3:p:37-58
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.3.37
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.21.3.37
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Guillaume R. Fréchette & Alvin E. Roth & M. Utku Ünver, 2007. "Unraveling yields inefficient matchings: evidence from post-season college football bowls," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(4), pages 967-982, December.
    2. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "A Kidney Exchange Clearinghouse in New England," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 376-380, May.
    3. Roth, Alvin E. & Sonmez, Tayfun & Utku Unver, M., 2005. "Pairwise kidney exchange," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 151-188, December.
    4. Kuran, T., 1995. "Islamic Economics and the Islamic Subeconomy," Papers 9505, Southern California - Department of Economics.
    5. Tayfun Sönmez & Alvin E. Roth & M. Utku Ünver, 2007. "Efficient Kidney Exchange: Coincidence of Wants in Markets with Compatibility-Based Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 828-851, June.
    6. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sonmez & M. Utku Unver, 2005. "Efficient Kidney Exchange: Coincidence of Wants in a Structured Market," NBER Working Papers 11402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Richard Schmalensee & Paul L. Joskow & A. Denny Ellerman & Juan Pablo Montero & Elizabeth M. Bailey, 1998. "An Interim Evaluation of Sulfur Dioxide Emissions Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 53-68, Summer.
    8. Roth, Alvin E & Xing, Xiaolin, 1997. "Turnaround Time and Bottlenecks in Market Clearing: Decentralized Matching in the Market for Clinical Psychologists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 284-329, April.
    9. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
    10. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2005. "The New York City High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 364-367, May.
    11. Gary S. Becker & Julio Jorge Elías, 2007. "Introducing Incentives in the Market for Live and Cadaveric Organ Donations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 3-24, Summer.
    12. Saidman, Susan L. & Roth, Alvin E. & Sonmez, Tayfun & Unver, M. Utku & Delmonico, Francis L., 2014. "Increasing the Opportunity of Live Kidney Donation by Matching for Two and Three Way Exchanges," MPRA Paper 58247, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Muriel Niederle & Alvin E. Roth, 2003. "Unraveling Reduces Mobility in a Labor Market: Gastroenterology with and without a Centralized Match," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1342-1352, December.
    14. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 457-488.
    15. Roth, Alvin E. & Malouf, Michael W. K. & Murnighan, J. Keith, 1981. "Sociological versus strategic factors in bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 153-177, June.
    16. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2004. "Prediction Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 107-126, Spring.
    17. repec:reg:rpubli:259 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Roth, Alvin E. & Sonmez, Tayfun & Unver, Utku & Delmonico, Francis & Saidman, Susan L., 2014. "Utilizing List Exchange and Non-directed Donation through “Chain” Paired Kidney Donations," MPRA Paper 58246, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Christopher Avery & Christine Jolls & Richard Posner & Alvin E. Roth, 2007. "The New Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks," NBER Working Papers 13213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Roth, Alvin E, 1991. "A Natural Experiment in the Organization of Entry-Level Labor Markets: Regional Markets for New Physicians and Surgeons in the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 415-440, June.
    21. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2006. "Changing the Boston School Choice Mechanism," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001022, UCLA Department of Economics.
    22. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810.
    23. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the New York City High School Match," NBER Working Papers 14864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Joseph Persky, 2007. "Retrospectives: From Usury to Interest," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 227-236, Winter.
    25. Elliott Peranson & Alvin E. Roth, 1999. "The Redesign of the Matching Market for American Physicians: Some Engineering Aspects of Economic Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 748-780, September.
    26. Roth, Alvin E & Murnighan, J Keith, 1982. "The Role of Information in Bargaining: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1123-1142, September.
    27. Leonard Thomas C., 2004. "The Price is Wrong: Causes and Consequences of Ethical Restraint of Trade," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 14(2), pages 1-20, December.
    28. Roth, Alvin E, 1984. "The Evolution of the Labor Market for Medical Interns and Residents: A Case Study in Game Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 991-1016, December.
    29. Roth, Alvin E & Xing, Xiaolin, 1994. "Jumping the Gun: Imperfections and Institutions Related to the Timing of Market Transactions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 992-1044, September.
    30. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
    31. Kaushik Basu, 2003. "The Economics and Law of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 141-157, Summer.
    32. Timur Kuran, 1995. "Islamic Economics and the Islamic Subeconomy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 155-173, Fall.
    33. Posner, Richard A. & Avery, Christopher & Jolls, Christine & Roth, Alvin, 2001. "The Market for Federal Judicial Law Clerks," Scholarly Articles 2623748, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets

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