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Products Liability, Consumer Misperceptions, and Market Power

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  • A. Mitchell Polinsky
  • William P. Rogerson

Abstract

This paper compares alternative liability rules for allocating losses from defective products when consumers under- estimate these losses and producers may have some market power. If producers do not have any market power, the rule of strict liability .leads to both the first-best accident probability and industry output. If producers do have some market power, strict liability still leads to the first-best accident probability, but there will now be too little output of the industry. It is shown that if market power is sufficiently large, a negligence rule is preferable. Under this rule, firms can still be induced to choose the first-best accident probability, but now the remaining damages are borne by consumers. Since consumers underestimate these damages, they buy more than under strict liability. However, there is a limit to how much the negligence rule can encourage extra consumption. It is shown that if market power is sufficiently large, the rule of no liability may then be preferred to the negligence rule. Without any liability imposed, producers will not choose the first-best accident probability. However, this may be more than compensated for by the increased output of the industry.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0937.

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Date of creation: Jul 1982
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0937

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Cited by:
  1. Tomas J. Philipson & Eric Sun, 2008. "Is the Food And Drug Administration Safe And Effective?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 85-102, Winter.
  2. Elisabetta Iossa & Giuliana Palumbo, 2010. "Over-optimism and lender liability in the consumer credit market," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 374-394, April.
  3. Baniak Andrzej & Grajzl Peter, 2013. "Equilibrium and Welfare in a Model of Torts with Industry Reputation Effects," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 265-302, October.
  4. Thomas J. Miceli & Rebecca Rabon & Kathleen Segerson, 2012. "Liability versus Regulation for Controlling Product-Related Risks," Working papers 2012-17, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  5. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2003. "Markets, Torts and Social Inefficiency," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0308, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  6. Martin Gaynor & Deborah Haas-Wilson & William B. Vogt, 1998. "Are Invisible Hands Good Hands? Moral Hazard, Competition, and the Second Best in Health Care Markets," NBER Working Papers 6865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Stéphan Marette & Jutta Roosen & Sandrine Blanchemanche, 2008. "Taxes and subsidies to change eating habits when information is not enough: an application to fish consumption," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 119-143, October.
  8. Marette, Stéphan & Roosen, Jutta & Blanchemanche, Sandrine, 2008. "Health information and substitution between fish: Lessons from laboratory and field experiments," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 197-208, June.
  9. van Tongeren, Frank & Beghin, John C. & Marette, Stephan, 2009. "A Cost-Benefit Framework for the Assessment of Non-Tariff Measures in Agro-Food Trade," Staff General Research Papers 13146, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  10. Alfred Endres & Tim Friehe, 2013. "The monopolistic polluter under environmental liability law: incentives for abatement and R&D," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 753-770, March.
  11. Stéphan Marette, 2007. "Minimum safety standard, consumers’ information and competition," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 259-285, December.
  12. Bruce Hay & Kathryn E. Spier, 2005. "Manufacturer Liability for Harms Caused by Consumers to Others," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1700-1711, December.
  13. Bruce Hay & Kathryn E. Spier, 2004. "Manufacturer Liability for Harms Caused by Consumers to Others," NBER Working Papers 10972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Anne-Célia Disdier & Stéphan Marette, 2012. "Taxes, minimum-quality standards and/or product labeling to improve environmental quality and welfare: Experiments can provide answers," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 337-357, June.
  15. Anja Olbrich, 2008. "The optimal negligence standard in health care under supply-side cost sharing," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 73-85, June.
  16. Teresa John & Lemma Senbet & Anant Sundaram & Peter Woodward, 2005. "Limited Liability and Market Power," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 215-231, November.

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