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A Dynamic Explanation of the Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept Disparity

  • Kling, Catherine L.
  • List, John
  • Zhao, Jinhua

Evidence from laboratory experiments suggests that important disparities exist between willingness to pay (WTP) and compensation demanded for the same good. This study advances, and experimentally tests, a new explanation of the WTP/WTA disparity--a dynamic theory based on the presence of commitment costs. We find that the commitment cost theory combined with a simple behavioral anomaly is able to lend insights into the causes and severity of the WTA/WTP disparity. Further, we find that market experience attenuates the behavioral anomaly, consistent with the notion that no value disparity exists for agents with sufficient market experience.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 33896.

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Date of creation: 17 Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: Forthcoming in Economic Inquiry
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:33896
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  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. Jinhua Zhao & Catherine L. Kling, 2004. "Willingness to Pay, Compensating Variation, and the Cost of Commitment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(3), pages 503-517, July.
  4. Horowitz, John K. & McConnell, K. E., 2003. "Willingness to accept, willingness to pay and the income effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(4), pages 537-545, August.
  5. Zhao, Jinhua & Kling, Catherine L., 2001. "A new explanation for the WTP/WTA disparity," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 293-300, December.
  6. John List, 2003. "Does market experience eliminate market anomalies?," Natural Field Experiments 00297, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. John A. List, 2002. "Preference Reversals of a Different Kind: The "More Is Less" Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1636-1643, December.
  8. Shogren, Jason F. & Margolis, Michael & Koo, Cannon & List, John A., 2001. "A random nth-price auction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 409-421, December.
  9. 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.
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