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The market for used cars: new evidence of the lemons phenomenon

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  • Winand Emons
  • George Sheldon

Abstract

The lemons model assumes that owners of used cars have an information advantage over potential buyers with respect to the quality of their vehicles. Owners of bad cars try to sell them to ill-informed buyers while owners of good cars hold on to theirs. Consequently, the quality of traded automobiles tends to be sub-average. In contrast to previous empirical work, the following article investigates the behaviour of both buyers and sellers, testing for adverse selection by sellers and for quality uncertainty among buyers with a sample consisting of all 1985 cars registered in the Swiss canton of Basle City over the period 1985 to 1991. Our data supports both adverse selection and buyer uncertainty, suggesting that a lemons problem exists.

Suggested Citation

  • Winand Emons & George Sheldon, 2009. "The market for used cars: new evidence of the lemons phenomenon," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(22), pages 2867-2885.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:41:y:2009:i:22:p:2867-2885
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840802277332
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert H. Porter & Peter Sattler, 1999. "Patterns of Trade in the Market for Used Durables: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ma, Xingliang & Spielman, David J. & Nazli, Hina & Zambrano, Patricia & Zaidi, Fatima & Kouser, Shahzad, 2014. "Information efficiency in a lemons market: Evidence from Bt cotton seed market in Pakistan," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 175278, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Jonathan R. Peterson & Henry S. Schneider, 2014. "Adverse selection in the used-car market: evidence from purchase and repair patterns in the Consumer Expenditure Survey," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(1), pages 140-154, March.
    3. Hoffmann, Vivian & Mutiga, Samuel & Harvey, Jagger & Nelson, Rebecca & Milgroom, Michael, 2013. "Asymmetric Information and Food Safety: Maize in Kenya," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 151288, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Anthony Strittmatter & Michael Lechner, 2017. "Sorting on the Used-Car Market After the Volkswagen Emission Scandal," CESifo Working Paper Series 6480, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Justin P. Johnson & Michael Waldman, 2010. "Leasing, Lemons, and Moral Hazard," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 307-328, May.

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