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