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The Market: Catalyst for Rationality and Filter of Irrationality

  • John A. List
  • Daniel Millimet

Assumptions of individual rationality and preference stability provide the foundation for a convenient and tractable modeling approach. While both of these assumptions have come under scrutiny in distinct literatures, the two lines of research remain disjointed. This study begins by explicitly linking the two literatures while providing insights into perhaps the central issue facing behavioral economics today: to what extent does market experience mitigate various forms of individual irrationality? We find considerable evidence that the market is a catalyst for rationality. The study then focuses on aggregate market outcomes by examining empirically whether individual rationality is a prerequisite for market efficiency. Using field data gathered from more than 380 subjects of age 6-18 in multi-lateral bargaining markets at a shopping mall, we find that the market is a filter of irrationality—even when markets are populated solely by irrational buyers, aggregate market outcomes quickly converge to neoclassical predictions.Length: 44 pages

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 122247000000000023.

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Date of creation: 29 Jan 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:122247000000000023
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  1. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  2. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Propensity Score Matching Methods for Non-experimental Causal Studies," NBER Working Papers 6829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
  4. Pollak, Robert A, 1978. "Endogenous Tastes in Demand and Welfare Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 374-79, May.
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  12. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2002. "Alternative approaches to evaluation in empirical microeconomics," CeMMAP working papers CWP10/02, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  13. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
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  15. Vernon L. Smith, 1965. "Experimental Auction Markets and the Walrasian Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 387.
  16. Gode, Dhananjay K & Sunder, Shyam, 1993. "Allocative Efficiency of Markets with Zero-Intelligence Traders: Market as a Partial Substitute for Individual Rationality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 119-37, February.
  17. MacCrimmon, K R & Toda, M, 1969. "The Experimental Determination of Indifference Curves," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(108), pages 433-51, October.
  18. John List, 2004. "Testing neoclassical competitive theory in multi-lateral decentralized markets," Framed Field Experiments 00176, The Field Experiments Website.
  19. John List, 2004. "The nature and extent of discrimination in the marketplace: Evidence from the field," Natural Field Experiments 00299, The Field Experiments Website.
  20. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  21. repec:feb:framed:0081 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Phlips, Louis, 1972. "A Dynamic Version of the Linear Expenditure Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(4), pages 450-58, November.
  23. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Causal Effects in Non-Experimental Studies: Re-Evaluating the Evaluation of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 6586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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