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What Makes a Price Fair? An Experimental Study of Transaction Experience and Endogenous Fairness Views

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  • Holger Herz
  • Dmitry Taubinsky

Abstract

People’s fairness preferences are an important constraint for what constitutes an acceptable economic transaction, yet little is known about how these preferences are formed. In this paper, we provide clean evidence that previous transactions play an important role in shaping perceptions of fairness. Buyers used to high market prices, for example, are more likely to perceive high prices as fair than buyers used to low market prices. Similarly, employees used to high wages are more likely to perceive low wages as unfair. Our data further allows us to decompose this history dependence into the effects of pure observation vs. the experience of payoff-relevant outcomes. We propose two classes of models of path-dependent fairness preferences - either based on endogenous fairness reference points or based on shifts in salience - that can account for our data. Structural estimates of both types of models imply a substantial deviation from existing history-independent models of fairness. Our results have implications for price discrimination, labor markets, and dynamic pricing.

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Herz & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2016. "What Makes a Price Fair? An Experimental Study of Transaction Experience and Endogenous Fairness Views," CESifo Working Paper Series 5936, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5936
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    Cited by:

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    3. Brandts, Jordi & Riedl, Arno, 2020. "Market interaction and efficient cooperation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 121(C).
    4. Herz, Holger & Schmutzler, Armin & Volk, André, 2019. "Cooperation and mistrust in relational contracts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 366-380.
    5. Marco Fongoni, 2018. "Workers' reciprocity and the (ir)relevance of wage cyclicality for the volatility of job creation," Working Papers 1809, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
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    7. Björn Bartling & Tobias Gesche & Nick Netzer, 2017. "Does the absence of human sellers bias bidding behavior in auction experiments?," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(1), pages 44-61, July.
    8. Edwin Ip & Andreas Leibbrandt & Joseph Vecci, 2020. "How Do Gender Quotas Affect Workplace Relationships? Complementary Evidence from a Representative Survey and Labor Market Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(2), pages 805-822, February.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    reference points; fairness; salience; bargaining; endogenous preferences; price stickiness;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory

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