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The inefficiency of splitting the bill


  • Uri Gneezy
  • Ernan Haruvy
  • Hadas Yafe


When agents are ascribed selfish motives, economic theory points to grave inefficiencies resulting from externalities. We study a restaurant setting in which groups of diners are faced with different ways of paying the bill. The two main manipulations are splitting the bill between the diners and having each pay individually. We find that subjects consume more when the cost is split, resulting in a substantial loss of efficiency. Diners prefer the individual pay to the inefficient split-bill method. When forced to play according to a less preferred set of rules, they minimise their individual losses by taking advantage of others. Copyright 2004 Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Uri Gneezy & Ernan Haruvy & Hadas Yafe, 2004. "The inefficiency of splitting the bill," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 265-280, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:114:y:2004:i:495:p:265-280

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Basco, Sergi, 2014. "Globalization and financial development: A model of the Dot-Com and the Housing Bubbles," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 78-94.
    9. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "Has The U.S. Economy Become More Stable? A Bayesian Approach Based On A Markov-Switching Model Of The Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 608-616, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engel, Christoph & Zhurakhovska, Lilia, 2014. "Conditional cooperation with negative externalities – An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 252-260.
    2. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri & Kuhn, Michael A., 2013. "Experimental methods: Extra-laboratory experiments-extending the reach of experimental economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 93-100.
    3. Jan Stoop & Charles N. Noussair & Daan van Soest, 2012. "From the Lab to the Field: Cooperation among Fishermen," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(6), pages 1027-1056.

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