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Strategic Quality Choice with Minimum Quality Standards

Author

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  • Lutz, Stefan
  • Lyon, Thomas P
  • Maxwell, John W

Abstract

In many markets governments set minimum quality standards while some sellers choose to compete on the basis of quality by exceeding them. Such ‘high-quality’ strategies often win public acclaim, especially when ‘environmental friendliness’ is the dimension along which firms are differentiated. We analyse this phenomenon using a duopoly model of vertical product differentiation. A minimum quality standard leads both the high-quality and the low-quality firm to increase product qualities, lower prices, and increase quantities sold. As a result, total welfare increases. Industry profits fall, however, because reduced quality differentiation intensifies price competition. If the high-quality firm can commit to a quality level before regulations are promulgated, it induces the regulator to weaken its standards, and welfare falls.

Suggested Citation

  • Lutz, Stefan & Lyon, Thomas P & Maxwell, John W, 1998. "Strategic Quality Choice with Minimum Quality Standards," CEPR Discussion Papers 1793, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1793
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sara Scatasta & Justus Wesseler & Jill Hobbs, 2007. "Differentiating the consumer benefits from labeling of GM food products," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 37(2-3), pages 237-242, September.
    2. Bonev, Petyo & Glachant, Matthieu & Söderberg, Magnus, 2018. "A Mechanism for Institutionalised Threat of Regulation: Evidence from the Swedish District Heating Market," Economics Working Paper Series 1805, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    3. Davies, Ronald B., 2005. "Abstinence from child labor and profit seeking," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 251-263, February.
    4. Scatasta, Sara & Wesseler, Justus & Hobbs, Jill E., 2005. "The Impact of Labeling Practices on Perceived Quality of GM Food Products: A Revealed Preferences Approach," 2005 International Congress, August 23-27, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark 24599, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    5. Eric W. Welch & Allan Mazur & Stuart Bretschneider, 2000. "Voluntary behavior by electric utilities: Levels of adoption and contribution of the climate challenge program to the reduction of carbon dioxide," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(3), pages 407-425.
    6. Lander Beloqui & Jose M. Usategui, 2004. "Overcompliance with minimum quality standards," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 28(2), pages 233-255, May.
    7. Magnus Söderberg, 2010. "Informal Benchmarks as a Source of Regulatory Threat in Unregulated Utility Sectors," CESifo Working Paper Series 2973, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Magnus Söderberg & Makoto Tanaka, 2012. "Spatial price homogeneity as a mechanism to reduce the threat of regulatory intervention in locally monopolistic sectors," Working Papers hal-00659458, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environment; Product Differentiation; Quality; Regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy

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