Product Safety Provision and Consumers' Information
Economic mechanisms related to the provision of product safety are explored, with particular attention paid to the structure of consumers' information. The case of perfect information, of experience goods (for which consumers detect product safety after consumption) and of credence goods (where consumers cannot link a disease to a particular product consumed in the past) are explored. Imperfect competition is assumed in the supply sector. In the case of both perfect information and experience goods, market equilibrium is characterised by a less-than-socially optimal provision of safety, when the safety effort is costly. With credence goods, imperfect information leads to the absence of safety effort and to a market closure. Different types of public regulation aiming at increasing consumer protection and circumventing market failures are explored. Particular attention is paid to minimum safety standards, labels and liability enforcement. The relative efficiency of these instruments depends on the information structure. In the cases of perfect information and experience goods, a minimum safety standard can be an efficient instrument. Regulation is necessary but not sufficient to avoid market failure in the case of credence goods. Copyright 2000 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd/University of Adelaide and Flinders University of South Australia
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Volume (Year): 39 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
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