IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Testing the Modigliani-Miller theorem directly in the lab: a general equilibrium approach


  • Jianying Qiu


  • Prashanth Mahagaonkar



In this paper, we directly test the Modigliani-Miller theorem in the lab. Applying a general equilibrium approach and not allowing for arbitrage among firms with different capital structures, we are able to address this issue without making any assumptions about individuals' risk attitudes and initial wealth positions. We find that, consistent with the Modigliani-Miller theorem, experimental subjects well recognized the increased systematic risk of equity with increasing leverage and accordingly demanded higher rate of return. Furthermore, the correlation between the value of the debt and equity is -0.94, which is surprisingly comparable with the -1 predicted by the Modigliani-Miller theorem. Yet, a U shape cost of capital seems to organize the data better.

Suggested Citation

  • Jianying Qiu & Prashanth Mahagaonkar, 2009. "Testing the Modigliani-Miller theorem directly in the lab: a general equilibrium approach," Working Papers 2009-12, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  • Handle: RePEc:inn:wpaper:2009-12

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    3. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2003. "Promises & Partnership," Research Papers in Economics 2003:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    4. Winand Emons, 1997. "Credence Goods and Fraudelent Experts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 107-119, Spring.
    5. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    6. Wolfgang Pesendorfer & Asher Wolinsky, 2003. "Second Opinions and Price Competition: Inefficiency in the Market for Expert Advice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 417-437.
    7. Huck, Steffen & L├╝nser, Gabriele K. & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2012. "Competition fosters trust," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 195-209.
    8. Asher Wolinsky, 1993. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 380-398, Autumn.
    9. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    10. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
    11. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    12. Toshiaki Iizuka, 2007. "Experts' agency problems: evidence from the prescription drug market in Japan," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(3), pages 844-862, September.
    13. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
    14. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-329, March-Apr.
    15. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Predation, reputation, and entry deterrence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 280-312, August.
    16. Thomas N. Hubbard, 1998. "An Empirical Examination of Moral Hazard in the Vehicle Inspection Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(2), pages 406-426, Summer.
    17. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    18. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
    19. Ingela Alger & Francois Salanie, 2001. "A Theory of Fraud and Over-Consumption in Experts Markets," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 495, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Nov 2004.
    20. Christopher C. Afendulis & Daniel P. Kessler, 2007. "Tradeoffs from Integrating Diagnosis and Treatment in Markets for Health Care," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 1013-1020, June.
    21. Jonathan Gruber & Maria Owings, 1996. "Physician Financial Incentives and Cesarean Section Delivery," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 99-123, Spring.
    22. Hughes, David & Yule, Brian, 1992. "The effect of per-item fees on the behaviour of general practitioners," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 413-437, December.
    23. Huck, Steffen & Ruchala, Gabriele K. & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2007. "Pricing and Trust," CEPR Discussion Papers 6135, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    24. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    25. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
    26. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    27. Gruber, Jon & Kim, John & Mayzlin, Dina, 1999. "Physician fees and procedure intensity: the case of cesarean delivery," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 473-490, August.
    28. Victor R. Fuchs, 1978. "The Supply of Surgeons and the Demand for Operations," NBER Working Papers 0236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    The Modigliani-Miller Theorem; Experimental Study; Decision Making under Uncertainty; General Equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inn:wpaper:2009-12. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Janette Walde). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.