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Willingness to Pay, Compensating Variation, and the Cost of Commitment

  • Jinhua Zhao
  • Catherine L. Kling

Hicksian welfare theory is static in nature, but many decisions are made in a dynamic environment. We present a dynamic model of an agent's decision to purchase or sell a good under the realistic conditions of uncertainty, irreversibility, and learning over time. Her willingness to pay (WTP) contains both the intrinsic value of the good as in Hicksian theory plus a commitment cost associated with delaying to obtain more information. The Hicksian equivalence between WTP/Willingness to accept (WTA) and compensating and equivalent variations no longer holds. The WTP and WTA divergence may arise and observed WTP values are not always appropriate for welfare analysis. (JEL D60, D83) Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/ei/cbh077
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Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 42 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 503-517

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:42:y:2004:i:3:p:503-517
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