A Social-Status Rationale for Repugnant and Protected Market Transactions

The Spring 2021 FC Talks series is dedicated to our late colleague, Patrick Harless. Patrick Harless was an economist who joined the Freedom Center in 2018. He was a dedicated educator who, although his work was highly technical, was able to teach economic topics all levels of students. This memorial series brings together talks by Harless’s former PhD advisor, his co-authors, and our own faculty.

Romans Pancs is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. He is the author of Lectures on Microeconomics: The Big Questions Approach (MIT Press). With Patrick, he co-authored “A Review of Robert Sugden’s Community of Advantage” (Journal of Economic Literature, forthcoming) as well as “A Social-Status Rationale for Repugnant and Protected Market Transactions,” the latter of which will provide the basis for his FC Talk.

Individuals deem repugnant and societies proscribe market transactions in sex, organs, and surrogacy, among others. Repugnance persists in spite of potential gains from trade. We resolve this tension by observing that repugnance norms help status-conscious individuals. We examine a model of an economy in which an individual loses social status if another consumes more of every good. Repugnance norms can forestall such loss of status. They do so by enforcing the partition of goods into separate markets (e.g., goods traded for money, favors exchanged among friends, and kidneys exchanged among donor–patient pairs) and proscribing exchange across these markets.

This talk will be hosted on Zoom by Lucy Schwarz. Please contact Lucy for details if you are interested in attending or if you wish to be added to our listserv.

Event Contacts
Lucy Schwarz