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Good rankings are bad - Why reliable rankings can hurt consumers

Author

Listed:
  • Bouton, Laurent
  • Kirchsteiger, Georg

Abstract

Ranking have become increasingly popular on markets for study programs, restaurants, 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 off. 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 effect on rationing. Furthermore, this change in demand can also be detrimental due to consumption externalities. Finally, with perfectly flexible prices the ranking might increase the market power of firms and hence lead to losses for all consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Bouton, Laurent & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2011. "Good rankings are bad - Why reliable rankings can hurt consumers," CEPR Discussion Papers 8702, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8702
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Pantelis Kalaitzidakis & Theofanis P. Mamuneas & Thanasis Stengos, 2011. "An updated ranking of academic journals in economics," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1525-1538, November.
    2. Michael Luca, 2011. "Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-016, Harvard Business School, revised Mar 2016.
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    4. Alessandro Gavazza & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2007. "The Perils of Transparency in Bureaucracies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 300-305, May.
    5. 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.
    6. Anderson, Simon P & Renault, Regis, 2000. "Consumer Information and Firm Pricing: Negative Externalities from Improved Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(3), pages 721-742, August.
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    8. 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.
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    11. repec:dau:papers:123456789/12478 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. V. Ginsburgh & Sheila Weyers, 2014. "Nominees, winners, and losers," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 38(4), pages 291-313, November.
    2. Legge, Stefan & Schmid, Lukas, 2013. "Rankings, Random Successes, and Individual Performance," Economics Working Paper Series 1340, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    3. Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan & Landa, Dimitri, 2015. "Political accountability and sequential policymaking," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 95-108.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer Welfare; Externalities; Market Power; Rankings; Rationing;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance

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