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The Construction and Identification of Demand Curves: A Concerted Experiment for Principles Instructor and Dining Services


Andreas Ortmann and Mary McAteer Kennedy


Consumer Economics


Non-computerized experiment


Demand curves are one of two key ingredients of the economist's totem--supply and demand analysis. Their identification and construction are notoriously difficult, especially as regards classroom instruction. More recently, several authors (De Young 1993, Ortmann and Colander 1995; Neral and Ray 1995; Delemeester and Neral 1995; Brauer 1995) have used classroom experiments to illustrate concepts related to supply and demand analysis. Classroom experiments allow for a far-reaching control of the environment. This strength of traditional (classroom) experiments is also its biggest weakness. In a sense, the induced environments are too controlled, thereby tidying up the inevitable messiness of research, and making the identification problem disappear.1 This has led some instructors to simple in-classroom construction and evaluation of production and cost functions (Neral and Ray 1995) that do not use the induced value approach typical for traditional (classroom) experiments. Here we report a simple complementary semester-long experiment involving the construction and identification of demand curves in a college environment.


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