NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets

Alvin E. Roth

NBER Working Paper No. 12702
Issued in November 2006
NBER Program(s):   HC   LE

This essay examines how repugnance sometimes constrains what transactions and markets we see. When my colleagues and I have helped design markets and allocation procedures, we have often found that distaste for certain kinds of transactions is a real constraint, every bit as real as the constraints imposed by technology or by the requirements of incentives and efficiency. I'll first consider a range of examples, from slavery and indentured servitude (which once were not as repugnant as they now are) to lending money for interest (which used to be widely repugnant and is now not), and from bans on eating horse meat in California to bans on dwarf tossing in France. An example of special interest will be the widespread laws against the buying and selling of organs for transplantation. The historical record suggests that while repugnance can change over time, change can be quite slow.

download in pdf format
   (207 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (207 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12702

Published: Alvin E. Roth, 2007. "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 37-58, Summer. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Roth, Sonmez, and Unver w10002 Kidney Exchange
Roth w13225 Deferred Acceptance Algorithms: History, Theory, Practice, and Open Questions
Eichengreen, Park, and Shin w18673 Growth Slowdowns Redux: New Evidence on the Middle-Income Trap
Roth, Sonmez, and Unver w10698 Pairwise Kidney Exchange
Roth w13530 What Have We Learned From Market Design?
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us