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Product Safety: Liability, R & D and Signaling

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  • Daughety, Andrew
  • Reinganum, Jennifer

Abstract

This paper develops a two-stage model of product design and safety signaling incorporating a parametric liability specification in a monopoly context. In the first stage, the firm engages in research and development in order to determine the safety of its product. We model the research and development process as sequential sampling from a fixed distribution of potential safety levels. Thus, R&D is a stochastic process, partially controlled by investment, which ultimately yields an equilibrium set of acceptable safety levels. Since the outcome of research and development trials is unobservable to consumers, in the second stage of the model the firm must choose its price with the understanding that consumers may attempt to draw inferences about the product's safety from the firm's pricing behavior. Given the price, consumers infer the level of safety and choose the amount of the product to acquire; injuries then lead to losses which are allocated by the particular liability system in place. We vary the liability system's allocation

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Iowa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 94-17.

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Date of creation: 1992
Date of revision: 1994
Handle: RePEc:uia:iowaec:94-17

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Postal: University of Iowa, Department of Economics, Henry B. Tippie College of Business, Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Phone: (319) 335-0829
Fax: (319) 335-1956
Web page: http://tippie.uiowa.edu/economics/
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References

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  1. Nancy A. Lutz, 1989. "Warranties as Signals under Consumer Moral Hazard," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 239-255, Summer.
  2. Peter A. Diamond, 1974. "Single Activity Accidents," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 107-164, January.
  3. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-39, March.
  4. Russell Cooper & Thomas W. Ross, 1984. "Monopoly Provision of Product Quality with Uninformed Buyers," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 688R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Nov 1984.
  5. Marilyn J. Simon, 1981. "Imperfect Information, Costly Litigation, and Product Quality," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(1), pages 171-184, Spring.
  6. Cooper, Russell & Ross, Thomas W, 1984. "Prices, Product Qualities and Asymmetric Information: The Competitive Case," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 197-207, April.
  7. Shapiro, Carl, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-79, November.
  8. Steven A Matthews & Doron Fertig, 1990. "Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Discussion Papers 881, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
  10. Esther Gal-Or, 1989. "Warranties as a Signal of Quality," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 22(1), pages 50-61, February.
  11. Chan, Yuk-Shee & Leland, Hayne, 1982. "Prices and Qualities in Markets with Costly Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 499-516, October.
  12. Riordan, Michael H, 1986. "Monopolistic Competition with Experience Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 265-79, May.
  13. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1988. "The deterrent effects of settlements and trials," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 109-116, June.
  14. Shiou Shieh, 1993. "Incentives for Cost-Reducing Investment in a Signalling Model of Product Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 466-477, Autumn.
  15. Png, I. P. L., 1987. "Litigation, liability, and incentives for care," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 61-85, October.
  16. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Riordan, Michael H, 1984. "Advertising as a Signal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 427-50, June.
  17. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "The Causes and Consequences of the Dependence of Quality on Price," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 1-48, March.
  18. Spence, A Michael, 1977. "Consumer Misperceptions, Product Failure and Producer Liability," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 561-72, October.
  19. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
  20. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  21. Franklin Allen, 1984. "Reputation and Product Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 311-327, Autumn.
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