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Loss Aversion and Reference Points in Contracts

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  • Just, David R.
  • Wu, Steven Y.

Abstract

Loss aversion has become the dominant alternative to expected utility theory for modeling choice under uncertainty. The setting of the base payment in contracts provides an interesting application of referenced based decision theory. The impact of loss aversion on contract structure depends critically on whether reservation opportunities (outside options) are evaluated with respect to the reference point implied in the contract. We show that when reservation opportunities are independent of the reference point, reward contracts are optimal. However, when reservation opportunities are evaluated against the reference point, then penalty contracts are more efficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Just, David R. & Wu, Steven Y., 2005. "Loss Aversion and Reference Points in Contracts," SCC-76 Meeting, March 31-April 2, 2005, Myrtle Beach, SC 28727, SCC-76: Economics and Management of Risk in Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:sccfmb:28727
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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/28727
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hueth, Brent & Ligon, Ethan, 2003. "On the Efficacy of Contractual Provisions for Processing Tomatoes," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 21990, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Brent Hueth & Ethan Ligon, 2002. "Estimation of an efficient tomato contract," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 237-253, June.
    3. Innes, Robert D., 1990. "Limited liability and incentive contracting with ex-ante action choices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 45-67, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jonathan de Quidt, 2014. "Your Loss Is My Gain: A Recruitment Experiment With Framed Incentives," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 052, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    2. K. Hilken & K.J.M. De Jaegher & M. Jegers, 2013. "Strategic Framing in Contracts," Working Papers 13-04, Utrecht School of Economics.
    3. de Quidt, Jonathan, 2014. "Your loss is my gain: a recruitment experiment with framed incentives," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58208, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Risk and Uncertainty; L14; D81; D21; D82;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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