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Substitutability, experience, and the value disparity: Evidence from the marketplace

  • John List

Several experimental studies have recently provided strong evidence that the basic independence assumption, which is used in most theoretical and applied economic models to assess the operation of markets, is rarely appropriate. These results, which clearly contradict closely held economic doctrines, have led some influential commentators to call for an entirely new economic paradigm to displace conventional neoclassical theory. This paper refutes the generality of these experimental findings by going to a well-functioning marketplace and examining more than 350 individual decisions across various incentive compatible elicitation mechanisms. The data suggest that individuals with significant marketlike experience behave largely in accordance with neoclassical predictions: any observed WTA/WTP disparity amongst this group can be explained by neoclassical arguments. In light of these findings, I believe that we have discarded neoclassical explanations of the value disparity too quickly. More narrowly, these empirical results have important implications for stated valuation methods, such as contingent valuation.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Framed Field Experiments with number 00175.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00175
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  1. Coursey, Don L & Hovis, John L & Schulze, William D, 1987. "The Disparity between Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 679-90, August.
  2. Brookshire, David S & Coursey, Don L, 1987. "Measuring the Value of a Public Good: An Empirical Comparison of Elicitation Procedures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 554-66, September.
  3. Kolstad, Charles D. & Guzman, Rolando M., 1999. "Information and the Divergence between Willingness to Accept and Willingness to Pay," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 66-80, July.
  4. 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.
  5. Randall, Alan & Stoll, John R, 1980. "Consumer's Surplus in Commodity Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 449-55, June.
  6. Shogren, Jason F. & Cho, Sungwon & Koo, Cannon & List, John & Park, Changwon & Polo, Pablo & Wilhelmi, Robert, 2001. "Auction mechanisms and the measurement of WTP and WTA," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 97-109, April.
  7. Knez, Peter & Smith, Vernon L & Williams, Arlington W, 1985. "Individual Rationality, Market Rationality, and Value Estimation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 397-402, May.
  8. List, John A & Shogren, Jason F, 1998. "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1350-55, December.
  9. John A. List, 2003. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 9736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71, February.
  11. Jinhua Zhao & Catherine L. Kling, 1998. "Real Options and the WTP/WTA Disparity," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 99-wp206, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  12. Morrison, Gwendolyn C, 1997. "Resolving Differences in Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 236-40, March.
  13. Knetsch, Jack L., 1990. "Environmental policy implications of disparities between willingness to pay and compensation demanded measures of values," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 227-237, May.
  14. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  15. 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 1325-48, December.
  16. Hanemann, W Michael, 1991. "Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept: How Much Can They Differ?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 635-47, June.
  17. Knetsch, Jack L & Sinden, J A, 1987. "The Persistence of Evaluation Disparities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 691-95, August.
  18. Jack Knetsch & Fang-Fang Tang & Richard Thaler, 2001. "The Endowment Effect and Repeated Market Trials: Is the Vickrey Auction Demand Revealing?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 257-269, December.
  19. Catherine L. Kling & John A. List & Jinhua Zhao, 2003. "WTP/WTA Disparity: Have We Been Observing Dynamic Values but Interpreting Them as Static?, The," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 03-wp333, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  20. Knetsch, Jack L, 1989. "The Endowment Effect and Evidence of Nonreversible Indifference Curves," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1277-84, December.
  21. Bateman, Ian J, et al, 1997. "A Test of the Theory of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 479-505, May.
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