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The Economics of Credence Goods: An Experiment on the Role of Liability, Verifiability, Reputation, and Competition

Author

Listed:
  • Uwe Dulleck
  • Rudolf Kerschbamer
  • Matthias Sutter

Abstract

Credence goods markets are characterized by asymmetric information between sellers and consumers that may give rise to inefficiencies, such as under- and overtreatment or market breakdown. We study in a large experiment with 936 participants the determinants for efficiency in credence goods markets. While theory predicts that liability or verifiability yield efficiency, we find that liability has a crucial, but verifiability at best a minor, effect. Allowing sellers to build up reputation has little influence, as predicted. Seller competition drives down prices and yields maximal trade, but does not lead to higher efficiency as long as liability is violated. (JEL D12, D82)

Suggested Citation

  • Uwe Dulleck & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Matthias Sutter, 2011. "The Economics of Credence Goods: An Experiment on the Role of Liability, Verifiability, Reputation, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 526-555, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:2:p:526-55
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Uwe Dulleck & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Matthias Sutter, 2009. "The Economics of Credence Goods: On the Role of Liability, Verifiability, Reputation and Competition," Working Papers 2009-03, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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