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Privacy and Information Acquisition in Competitive Markets

  • Taylor, Curt
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    Personal privacy is studied in the context of a competitive product (or labor) market. Firms initially post prices (or wages) they promise to charge (or pay) individuals whose applications are ultimately approved. Contracts are incomplete because the amount of information firms acquire about applicants cannot be observed. When information acquisition corresponds to searching for bad news, firms search too hard in equilibrium. Consumers can ameliorate this by demanding inefficiently small levels of output. If economic characteristics differ across groups of applicants and price discrimination is prohibited, then members of the high-risk group are subjected to more scrutiny and suffer disproportionately high rejection rates. When information acquisition corresponds to searching for good news, firms acquire too little information about their applicants in equilibrium. Finally, if rejected applicants remain in the market and continue to apply to dfferent firms, then the resulting adverse selection may be so severe that all parties would be better off if no information was collected at all.

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    Paper provided by Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics in its series Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt5hk0k89w.

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    Date of creation: 19 May 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt5hk0k89w
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    1. Pagano, Marco & Jappelli, Tullio, 1993. " Information Sharing in Credit Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(5), pages 1693-1718, December.
    2. Alessandro Acquisti & Hal R. Varian, 2005. "Conditioning Prices on Purchase History," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(3), pages 367-381, May.
    3. George J. Stigler, 1980. "An Introduction to Privacy in Economics and Politics," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 10, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    4. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
    5. Curtis R. Taylor, 2004. "Consumer Privacy and the Market for Customer Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(4), pages 631-650, Winter.
    6. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
    7. Dana, James D, Jr, 2001. "Competition in Price and Availability When Availability is Unobservable," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 497-513, Autumn.
    8. Fahad Khalil, 1997. "Auditing Without Commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 629-640, Winter.
    9. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1971. "The Private and Social Value of Information and the Reward to Inventive Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(4), pages 561-74, September.
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