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Diminishing Marginal Value

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  • Horowitz, John K.
  • List, John A.
  • McConnell, Kenneth E.

Abstract

The notion of diminishing marginal value has had a profound impact on the development of neoclassical theory. Early neoclassical scholars had considerable difficulty convincing contemporaries of the new paradigm's value until political economists, including Jevons and Walras, 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 surprisingly little empirical verification of its existence or level. This paper gathers field data across a myriad of subject pools--from undergraduate students to PTA members to sportscard enthusiasts--to examine several aspects of preferences in both price and exchange institutions. Examining behavior of nearly 900 subjects across several treatments, we find strong evidence of diminishing marginal value.

Suggested Citation

  • Horowitz, John K. & List, John A. & McConnell, Kenneth E., 2004. "Diminishing Marginal Value," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20297, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea04:20297
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. E. Elisabet RutstrÃm, 1998. "Home-grown values and incentive compatible auction design," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 27(3), pages 427-441.
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    3. Harrison, Glenn W, 1992. "Theory and Misbehavior of First-Price Auctions: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1426-1443, December.
    4. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71.
    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 1325-1348, December.
    6. Theodore W. Schultz, 1962. "Reflections on Investment in Man," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-1.
    7. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-1284, December.
    8. Munro, Alistair & Sugden, Robert, 2003. "On the theory of reference-dependent preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 407-428, April.
    9. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, Kenneth E., 2002. "A Review of WTA/WTP Studies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 426-447, November.
    10. Gwendolyn Morrison, 1997. "Willingness to pay and willingness to accept: some evidence of an endowment effect," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(4), pages 411-417.
    11. Plott, Charles R., "undated". "Laboratory Experiments in Economics: The Implications of Posted-Price Institutions," Working Papers 597, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    12. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, K. E., 2003. "Willingness to accept, willingness to pay and the income effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 537-545, August.
    13. 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.
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