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Planned Obsolescence As A Signal of Quality

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  • Choi Jay Pil

Abstract

This paper provides a new rationale for planned obsolescence based on imperfect information about the quality of durable goods. The source of the inefficient choice of durability lies in the fact that the frequency of repeat purchases and the future expected profit that can monitor the quality of the good is inversely related to the durability of the good. Since the repeat purchases are valued more for the high quality producer, the returns to reduced durability is also greater for the high quality producer. This asymmetry in the returns to reduced durabhilit y implies that planned obsolescence can be used as a signal of quality. With leasing, however, the durability choice incentive often runs in the other direction, and the monopolist tends to choose excessively long lives for his product. This is in sharp contrast to the durability literature where leasing restores the incentive for the efficient choice of durability. [L1, D8]

Suggested Citation

  • Choi Jay Pil, 2001. "Planned Obsolescence As A Signal of Quality," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 59-79.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intecj:v:15:y:2001:i:4:p:59-79
    DOI: 10.1080/10168730100000053
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Waldman, 1996. "Planned Obsolescence and the R&D Decision," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(3), pages 583-595, Autumn.
    2. 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.
    3. Swan, Peter L, 1970. "Durability of Consumption Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 884-894, December.
    4. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-329, March-Apr.
    5. 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 615-641, August.
    6. Peter L. Swan, 1970. "Market Structure and Technological Progress: The Influence of Monopoly on Product Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(4), pages 627-638.
    7. Levhari, David & Srinivasan, T N, 1969. "Durability of Consumption Goods: Competition Versus Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 102-107, March.
    8. Nelson, Philip, 1974. "Advertising as Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 729-754, July/Aug..
    9. Raymond J. Deneckere & R. Preston McAfee, 1996. "Damaged Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(2), pages 149-174, June.
    10. Arthur Fishman & Rafael Rob, 2000. "Product Innovation by a Durable-Good Monpoly," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 237-252, Summer.
    11. E. Kleiman & T. Ophir, 1966. "The Durability of Durable Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(2), pages 165-178.
    12. Michael Waldman, 1993. "A New Perspective on Planned Obsolescence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 273-283.
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    Cited by:

    1. ISHIKAWA Jota & MORITA Hodaka & MUKUNOKI Hiroshi, 2015. "Parallel Imports and Repair Services," Discussion papers 15060, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. Roland Strausz, "undated". "Planned Obsolescence and the Provision of Unobservable Quality," Papers 028, Departmental Working Papers.

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