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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 whether market experience mitigates one specific form of individual rationality—consistent preferences. Using field experimental data gathered from more than 800 experimental subjects, we find evidence that the market is a catalyst for this type of rationality. The study then focuses on aggregate market outcomes by examining empirically whether individual rationality of this sort is a prerequisite for market efficiency. Using a complementary field experiment, we gathered data from more than 380 subjects of age 6-18 in multi-lateral bargaining markets at a shopping mall. We find that our chosen market institution is a filter of irrationality: even when markets are populated solely by irrational buyers, aggregate market outcomes converge to the intersection of the supply and demand functions.

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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. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
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  4. John A. List, 2004. "Testing Neoclassical Competitive Theory in Multilateral Decentralized Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1131-1156, October.
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  6. Slonim, Robert L., 1999. "Learning rules of thumb or learning more rational rules," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 217-236, February.
  7. 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.
  8. Blundell, Richard & Costa Dias, Monica, 2008. "Alternative Approaches to Evaluation in Empirical Microeconomics," IZA Discussion Papers 3800, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  12. Tjalling C. Koopmans, 1962. "On Flexibility of Future Preference," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 150, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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  17. 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.
  18. repec:feb:framed:0081 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Smith, Vernon L, 1976. "Experimental Economics: Induced Value Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 274-79, May.
  20. 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.
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