Regulation, Living Cost, and Economic Welfare: a Comparative Analysis of Japanese and U.S. Food Labeling Systems
This paper explores the positive and normative effects of regulations governing the disclosure of product information. As an example, a Japanese food labeling system which requires explicit display of expiration dates is compared with a U.S. system which permits the encoding of expiration dates. The paper shows that, when the sellers cannot price-discriminate items with different shelf ages, the Japanese system will lead to a greater amount of wastage and a higher price that the U.S. system. The welfare ranking is generally indeterminate, but the Japanese system could sometimes yield lower economic welfare by interacting with the pre-existing price distortions.
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