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Warranties as Signals Under Consumer Moral Hazard

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Abstract

In this paper, I examine whether and how warranties serve as signals of product quality in an environment where there are opportunities for consumer moral hazard. My model is very similar to Grossman's. A risk neutral monopolist produced a good of fixed and exogenous quality. This product is offered to a market of identical risk-averse consumers, and it can be bundled with a warranty of the monopolist's choosing. The probability that the product breaks down is a function of its quality and the effort the consumer takes in using it. This consumer effort cannot be observed by the monopolist or any third party, so that the warranty cannot be made conditional on the effort taken, and in choosing the warranty the monopolist must take the moral hazard problem into account.

Suggested Citation

  • Nancy A. Lutz, 1988. "Warranties as Signals Under Consumer Moral Hazard," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 867, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:867 Note: CFP 739.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthews, Steven & Moore, John, 1987. "Monopoly Provision of Quality and Warranties: An Exploration in the Theory of Multidimensional Screening," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 441-467, March.
    2. Robert Gertner & Robert Gibbons & David Scharfstein, 1988. "Simultaneous Signalling to the Capital and Product Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(2), pages 173-190, Summer.
    3. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-483, December.
    4. Russell Cooper & Thomas W. Ross, 1985. "Product Warranties and Double Moral Hazard," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 103-113, Spring.
    5. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
    6. Geoffrey Heal, 1977. "Guarantees and Risk-Sharing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 549-560.
    7. Farrell Joseph, 1993. "Meaning and Credibility in Cheap-Talk Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 514-531, October.
    8. Grossman, Sanford J. & Perry, Motty, 1986. "Perfect sequential equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 97-119, June.
    9. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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