Experimental Methods in the Political Economy of Exchange

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Science  10 Oct 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4773, pp. 167-173
DOI: 10.1126/science.234.4773.167


Traditionally, economics has been considered a nonexperimental science. In the last quarter century experimental methods have become a growing part of the economist's effort to more fully understand how individual motivation, individual information, and exchange rules relate to market outcomes in different institutions. Empirical support has been found in a wide variety of different experiments for the theoretical proposition that markets serve to aggregate the dispersed information of individuals to produce wealth-creating outcomes for society. A number of different experiments are presented to illustrate the type of questions addressed, including some in which the process is governed by political institutions such as majority rule.