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Consumer Protection and the Incentive to Become Informed

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  • Mark Armstrong
  • John Vickers
  • Jidong Zhou

Abstract

We discuss the impact of consumer protection policies on consumers' incentives to become informed of the best deals available in the market. In a market with costly information acquisition, we find that imposing a cap on suppliers' prices reduces the incentive to become informed of market conditions, with the result that prices paid by consumers (both informed and uninformed) may rise. In a related model where consumers have the ability to refuse to receive marketing, we find that this ability softens price competition and can make all consumers worse off. (JEL: D18, D83, L51) (c) 2009 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Armstrong & John Vickers & Jidong Zhou, 2009. "Consumer Protection and the Incentive to Become Informed," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 399-410, 04-05.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:7:y:2009:i:2-3:p:399-410
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fershtman, Chaim & Fishman, Arthur, 1994. "The 'perverse' effects of wage and price controls in search markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 1099-1112, May.
    2. Mark Armstrong, 2008. "Interactions between Competition and Consumer Policy," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 4.
    3. Simon P. Anderson & André de Palma, 2007. "Information Congestion: open access in a two-sided market," THEMA Working Papers 2007-10, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    4. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
    5. Il-Horn Hann & Kai-Lung Hui & Sang-Yong T. Lee & Ivan P. L. Png, 2008. "Consumer Privacy and Marketing Avoidance: A Static Model," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(6), pages 1094-1103, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Nermuth, Manfred & Pasini, Giacomo & Pin, Paolo & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2013. "The informational divide," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 21-30.
    2. Mark Armstrong & John Vickers, 2012. "Consumer Protection and Contingent Charges," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(2), pages 477-493, June.
    3. Gu, Yiquan & Wenzel, Tobias, 2015. "Consumer confusion, obfuscation, and price regulation," RIEI Working Papers 2015-04, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Research Institute for Economic Integration.
    4. Lach, Saul & Moraga-González, José-Luis, 2009. "Heterogeneous Price Information and the Effect of Competition," CEPR Discussion Papers 7319, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. D׳Agostino, Elena & Seidmann, Daniel J., 2016. "Protecting buyers from fine print," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 42-54.
    6. repec:bla:scotjp:v:64:y:2017:i:2:p:169-190 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Parcu, Pier Luigi & Silvestri, Virginia, 2014. "Electronic communications regulation in Europe: An overview of past and future problems," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 246-255.
    8. Juan Esteban Carranza & Robert Clark & Jean-François Houde, 2015. "Price Controls and Market Structure: Evidence from Gasoline Retail Markets," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(1), pages 152-198, March.
    9. Mark Armstrong, 2015. "Search and Ripoff Externalities," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 273-302, November.
    10. Obradovits, Martin, 2014. "Austrian-style gasoline price regulation: How it may backfire," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 33-45.
    11. Alessandro Acquisti & Curtis Taylor & Liad Wagman, 2016. "The Economics of Privacy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(2), pages 442-492, June.
    12. Yiquan Gu & Tobias Wenzel, 2014. "Strategic Obfuscation and Consumer Protection Policy," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 632-660, December.
    13. Schumacher, Heiner, 2014. "Incentives through consumer learning about tastes," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 170-177.
    14. Vincent Conitzer & Curtis R. Taylor & Liad Wagman, 2012. "Hide and Seek: Costly Consumer Privacy in a Market with Repeat Purchases," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(2), pages 277-292, March.
    15. Norman, George & Pepall, Lynne & Richards, Dan & Tan, Liang, 2016. "Competition and consumer data: The good, the bad, and the ugly," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 752-765.
    16. Pier Luigi Parcu, 2013. "Electronic Communications Regulation in Europe: An Overview of Past and Future Problems," RSCAS Working Papers 2013/92, European University Institute.
    17. Armstrong, Mark, 2011. "Economic models of consumer protection policies," MPRA Paper 34773, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Kosfeld, Michael & Schüwer, Ulrich, 2011. "Add-on Pricing, Naive Consumers, and the Hidden Welfare Costs of Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 8636, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Silvia Martínez-Gorricho, 2012. "Beneficial consumer fraud," Working Papers. Serie AD 2012-13, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    20. Gu, Yiquan & Wenzel, Tobias, 2012. "Strategic obfuscation and consumer protection policy in financial markets: Theory and experimental evidence," DICE Discussion Papers 76, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    21. Marcos, Félix & Corchón Díaz, Luis Carlos, 2011. "Price regulation in oligopolistic markets," UC3M Working papers. Economics 13443, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    22. Bennett, John & Chioveanu, Ioana, 2016. "Pro-Consumer Price Ceilings under Regulatory Uncertainty," MPRA Paper 72161, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Gsottbauer, Elisabeth & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2014. "Environmental policy when pollutive consumption is sensitive to advertising: Norms versus status," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 39-50.
    24. Maarten Janssen & Paul Pichler & Simon Weidenholzer, 2009. "Sequential Search with Incompletely Informed Consumers: Theory and Evidence from Retail Gasoline Markets," Vienna Economics Papers 0914, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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