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Good rankings are bad - Why reliable rankings can hurt consumers

  • LAURENT BOUTON

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

Ranking have become increasingly popular on markets for study programs, restau- rants, wines, cars, etc. This paper analyses the welfare implication of such rankings. Consumers have to make a choice between two goods of unknown quality with exogenous presence or absence of an informative ranking. We show that existence of the ranking might make all consumers worse o¤. The existence of a ranking changes the demand structure of consumers. With rigid prices and rationing, the change can be detrimental to consumers due to its e¤ect on rationing. Furthermore, this change in demand can also be detrimental due to consumption externalities. Finally, with perfectly ?exible prices the ranking might increase the market power of ?rms and hence lead to losses for all consumers.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number WP2011-002.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2011-002
Contact details of provider: Postal: 270 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215
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Fax: 617-353-4449
Web page: http://www.bu.edu/econ/

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  1. Michael Luca, 2011. "Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-016, Harvard Business School.
  2. Glazer, Jacob & McGuire, Thomas G. & Cao, Zhun & Zaslavsky, Alan, 2008. "Using global ratings of health plans to improve the quality of health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1182-1195, September.
  3. Alessandro Gavazza & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2007. "The Perils of Transparency in Bureaucracies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 300-305, May.
  4. Alan T. Sorensen, 2007. "BESTSELLER LISTS AND PRODUCT VARIETY -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 715-738, December.
  5. Glazer, Jacob & McGuire, Thomas G., 2006. "Optimal quality reporting in markets for health plans," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 295-310, March.
  6. Pantelis Kalaitzidakis & Theofanis P. Mamuneas & Thanasis Stengos, 2010. "An Updated Ranking of Academic Journals in Economics," Working Paper Series 15_10, The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
  7. Renault, Régis & Anderson, Simon P., 2009. "Comparative advertising: disclosing horizontal match information," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/12478, Paris Dauphine University.
  8. Simon P. Anderson & Regis Renault, 1997. "Consumer Information and Firm Pricing: Negative Externalities from Improved Information," Virginia Economics Online Papers 338, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  9. Volij, Oscar & Palacios-Huerta, Ignacio, 2004. "The Measurment of Intellectual Influence," Staff General Research Papers 10797, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  10. Pope, Devin G., 2009. "Reacting to rankings: Evidence from "America's Best Hospitals"," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1154-1165, December.
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