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A Test of Diminishing Marginal Value

  • JOHN HOROWITZ
  • J. LIST
  • K. E. McCONNELL

The notion of diminishing marginal value had a profound impact on the development of neoclassical theory. Early neoclassical scholars had difficulty convincing contemporaries of the new paradigm's value until political economists used the critical assumption of diminishing marginal value to link utility and demand. While diminishing marginal value remains a key component of modern economic intuition, there is little direct verification of this behavioural property. This paper reports experiments on a myriad of subject pools to examine behaviour in both price and exchange settings. We report results from nearly 900 subjects across 19 treatments and find strong evidence of diminishing marginal value. Copyright (c) The London School of Economics and Political Science 2007.

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Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 74 (2007)
Issue (Month): 296 (November)
Pages: 650-663

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:74:y:2007:i:296:p:650-663
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  1. John List, 2003. "Does market experience eliminate market anomalies?," Natural Field Experiments 00297, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, K. E., 2000. "Values elicited from open-ended real experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 221-237, March.
  3. John A. List, 2004. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 615-625, 03.
  4. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  5. 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.
  6. Horowitz, John K & McConnell, K E & Quiggin, John, 1999. "A Test of Competing Explanations of Compensation Demanded," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(4), pages 637-46, October.
  7. Harrison, Glenn W, 1992. "Theory and Misbehavior of First-Price Auctions: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1426-43, December.
  8. 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.
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