IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/gbl/wpaper/2014-03.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

On the economics of labels : how their introduction affects the functioning of markets and the welfare of all participants

Author

Listed:
  • Bonroy, O.
  • Constantatos, C.

Abstract

Are labels good or bad for consumers and firms? The answers may seem straightforward since labels improve information, yet economic theory reveals situations where their introduction reduces the welfare of, at least, some market participants. This essay reviews the theoretical literature on labels in order to identify and explain the main reasons that may cause labeling to produce undesirable side-effects. In constrast to early reviews that either concentrate on narrow topics or treat the subject in a more or less informal way, we bring together the main results from all the currently important topics by presenting and discussing the assumptions and model-building underpinning them. The advantage of this approach is that it identifies the origin of the differences between results, thus allowing the synthesis of results that sometimes appear even to be contradictory. We focus on "quality labels" and exemine: i) the impact of labeling on market structure; ii) the side-effects of costly certification; iii) issues related to the label's trustworthiness; iv) the rationale for mandatory vs voluntary labeling; v) the level at which the label's standard is set according to the agency that selects it; vi) the political economy of labels, i.e. pro or anti-label lobbying, lobbying to affect the label's standard, and lobbying in favor or against the label's mandatory imposition. These topics cover a wide range of applications, including GMOs, Organic Produce, Geographic Indicators, Contolled Origin, Eco-Labels, etc. We conclude by identifying topics that need further research.

Suggested Citation

  • Bonroy, O. & Constantatos, C., 2014. "On the economics of labels : how their introduction affects the functioning of markets and the welfare of all participants," Working Papers 2014-03, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  • Handle: RePEc:gbl:wpaper:2014-03
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://gael.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/sites/gael/files/doc-recherche/WP/A2014/gael2014-03.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Baltzer, Kenneth, 2012. "Standards vs. labels with imperfect competition and asymmetric information," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 61-63.
    2. Bruno Larue & Sébastien Pouliot & Christos Constantatos, 2009. "Exports to Smuggle and Smuggling Technologies," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(3), pages 476-493, August.
    3. Teisl, Mario F. & Roe, Brian & Hicks, Robert L., 2002. "Can Eco-Labels Tune a Market? Evidence from Dolphin-Safe Labeling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 339-359, May.
    4. Jean J. Gabszewicz & Isabel Grilo, 1992. "Price Competition When Consumersare Uncertain About Which Firm Sells Which Quality," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(4), pages 629-650, December.
    5. Crampes, Claude & Hollander, Abraham, 1995. "Duopoly and quality standards," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 71-82, January.
    6. Stéphan Marette, 2007. "Minimum safety standard, consumers’ information and competition," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 259-285, December.
    7. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
    8. David Dranove & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2010. "Quality Disclosure and Certification: Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 935-963, December.
    9. Sergio H. Lence & Stéphan Marette & Dermot J. Hayes & William Foster, 2007. "Collective Marketing Arrangements for Geographically Differentiated Agricultural Products: Welfare Impacts and Policy Implications," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-963.
    10. Constantatos, Christos & Sartzetakis, Eftichios S., 1999. "On commodity taxation in vertically differentiated markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(8), pages 1203-1217, November.
    11. Avinash Dixit, 1979. "A Model of Duopoly Suggesting a Theory of Entry Barriers," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 20-32, Spring.
    12. Constantine Manasakis & Evangelos Mitrokostas & Emmanuel Petrakis, 2013. "Certification of corporate social responsibility activities in oligopolistic markets," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(1), pages 282-309, February.
    13. Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
    14. Chris Arnot & Peter C. Boxall & Sean B. Cash, 2006. "Do Ethical Consumers Care About Price? A Revealed Preference Analysis of Fair Trade Coffee Purchases," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 54(4), pages 555-565, December.
    15. Paolo Garella & Emmanuel Petrakis, 2008. "Minimum quality standards and consumers’ information," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 36(2), pages 283-302, August.
    16. Daniel Pick, 2008. "Geographical Indications and the Competitive Provision of Quality in Agricultural Markets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(3), pages 794-812.
    17. Murray Fulton & Konstantinos Giannakas, 2004. "Inserting GM Products into the Food Chain: The Market and Welfare Effects of Different Labeling and Regulatory Regimes," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(1), pages 42-60.
    18. Heyes, Anthony G. & Maxwell, John W., 2004. "Private vs. public regulation: political economy of the international environment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 978-996, September.
    19. Lapan, Harvey & Moschini, GianCarlo, 2009. "Quality certification standards in competitive markets: When consumers and producers (dis)agree," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 144-147, September.
    20. Anne-Célia Disdier & Stéphan Marette, 2012. "Taxes, minimum-quality standards and/or product labeling to improve environmental quality and welfare: Experiments can provide answers," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 337-357, June.
    21. Olivier Bonroy & Christos Constantatos, 2008. "On the use of labels in credence goods markets," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 237-252, June.
    22. Charles Mason, 2011. "Eco-Labeling and Market Equilibria with Noisy Certification Tests," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 48(4), pages 537-560, April.
    23. Volker Beckmann & Claudio Soregaroli & Justus Wesseler, 2006. "Coexistence Rules and Regulations in the European Union," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1193-1199.
    24. Lusk, Jayson L. & Jamal, Mustafa & Kurlander, Lauren & Roucan, Maud & Taulman, Lesley, 2005. "A Meta-Analysis of Genetically Modified Food Valuation Studies," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 1-17, April.
    25. Motta, Massimo, 1993. "Endogenous Quality Choice: Price vs. Quantity Competition," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 113-131, June.
    26. Marette Stéphan, 2014. "Economic Benefits Coming from the Absence of Labels Proliferation," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-9, January.
    27. Harvey E. Lapan & Giancarlo Moschini, 2004. "Innovation and Trade with Endogenous Market Failure: The Case of Genetically Modified Products," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(3), pages 634-648.
    28. Christophe Bontemps & Zohra Bouamra-Mechemache & Michel Simioni, 2013. "Quality labels and firm survival: some first empirical evidence," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 40(3), pages 413-439, July.
    29. Desquilbet, Marion & Bullock, David S., 2008. "AJAE Appendix for ‘Who Pays the Costs of Non-GMO Segregation and Identity Preservation?’," American Journal of Agricultural Economics APPENDICES, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-12, September.
    30. Lusk Jayson L. & Marette Stéphan, 2012. "Can Labeling and Information Policies Harm Consumers?," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-15, October.
    31. Cremer, Helmuth & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1999. "On the taxation of polluting products in a differentiated industry," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 575-594, March.
    32. Konstantinos Giannakas & Amalia Yiannaka, 2008. "Market and Welfare Effects of Second-Generation, Consumer-Oriented GM Products," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(1), pages 152-171.
    33. Uri Ronnen, 1991. "Minimum Quality Standards, Fixed Costs, and Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(4), pages 490-504, Winter.
    34. Rick Harbaugh & John W. Maxwell & Beatrice Roussillon, 2011. "Label Confusion: The Groucho Effect of Uncertain Standards," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(9), pages 1512-1527, February.
    35. Stéphan Marette, 2007. "Minimum Safety Standard, Consumers' Information, and Competition, The," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 07-wp441, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
    36. Lapan, Harvey E. & Moschini, GianCarlo, 2007. "AJAE Appendix: Grading, Minimum Quality Standards, and the Labeling of Genetically Modified Products," American Journal of Agricultural Economics APPENDICES, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-6, August.
    37. Harvey Lapan & GianCarlo Moschini, 2007. "Grading, Minimum Quality Standards, and the Labeling of Genetically Modified Products," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(3), pages 769-783.
    38. Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-1346, December.
    39. Jianyu Yu & Zohra Bouamra-Mechemache, 2016. "Production standards, competition and vertical relationship," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 43(1), pages 79-111.
    40. Lucie Bottega & Jenny De Freitas, 2009. "Public, Private and Nonprofit Regulation for Environmental Quality," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 105-123, March.
    41. Golan, Elise H. & Kuchler, Fred & Mitchell, Lorraine, 2000. "Economics Of Food Labeling," Agricultural Economics Reports 34069, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    42. Kristin Kiesel & Jill J. McCluskey & Sofia B. Villas-Boas, 2011. "Nutritional Labeling and Consumer Choices," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 141-158, October.
    43. Crespi, John M. & Marette, Stephan, 2003. "Some Economic Implications Of Public Labeling," Journal of Food Distribution Research, Food Distribution Research Society, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 1-12, November.
    44. Giannakas Konstantinos & Kalaitzandonakes Nicholas & Magnier Alexander & Mattas Konstadinos, 2011. "Economic Effects of Purity Standards in Biotech Labeling Laws," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-47, April.
    45. Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
    46. repec:feb:natura:0061 is not listed on IDEAS
    47. Bonroy, Olivier & Lemarié, Stéphane, 2012. "Downstream labeling and upstream price competition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 347-360.
    48. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    49. Spence, Michael, 1976. "Product Differentiation and Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 407-414, May.
    50. Marion Desquilbet & David S. Bullock, 2003. "Who Pays the Costs of Non-GMO Segregation and Identity Preservation?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(3), pages 656-672.
    51. Pierre Mérel & Richard J. Sexton, 2012. "Will geographical indications supply excessive quality?," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 39(4), pages 567-587, September.
    52. Lusk, Jayson L. & Roosen, Jutta & Shogren, Jason (ed.), 2011. "The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Food Consumption and Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199569441.
    53. John M. Crespi & St)phan Marette, 2001. "How Should Food Safety Certification be Financed?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 852-861.
    54. Lisette Ibanez & Gilles Grolleau, 2008. "Can Ecolabeling Schemes Preserve the Environment?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 40(2), pages 233-249, June.
    55. Jens Hainmueller & Michael J. Hiscox & Sandra Sequeira, 2015. "Consumer Demand for Fair Trade: Evidence from a Multistore Field Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(2), pages 242-256, May.
    56. Mahenc Philippe, 2009. "Wasteful Labeling," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-20, December.
    57. repec:gbl:wpaper:2014-07 is not listed on IDEAS
    58. Soham Baksi & Pinaki Bose, 2007. "Credence Goods, Efficient Labelling Policies, and Regulatory Enforcement," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 37(2), pages 411-430, June.
    59. Mattoo, Aaditya & Singh, Harsha V, 1994. "Eco-labelling: Policy Considerations," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 53-65.
    60. Joshua P. Berning & Hayley H. Chouinard & Jill J. McCluskey, 2010. "Do Positive Nutrition Shelf Labels Affect Consumer Behavior? Findings from a Field Experiment with Scanner Data," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(2), pages 364-369.
    61. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    62. Ibrahima BARRY & Olivier BONROY & Paolo G. GARELLA, 2014. "Labelling by a for-Profit Certifier," Departmental Working Papers 2014-07, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano, revised 27 Feb 2016.
    63. Charles Noussair & StÈphane Robin & Bernard Ruffieux, 2004. "Do Consumers Really Refuse To Buy Genetically Modified Food?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 102-120, January.
    64. Baron, David P., 2011. "Credence attributes, voluntary organizations, and social pressure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1331-1338.
    65. Zilberman, David & Kaplan, Scott & Kim, Eunice & Waterfield, Gina, 2013. "Lessons from the California GM Labeling Proposition on the State of Crop Biotechnology," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 149851, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    66. Victor P. Goldberg, 1976. "Regulation and Administered Contracts," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(2), pages 426-448, Autumn.
    67. Hamilton, Stephen F. & Zilberman, David, 2006. "Green markets, eco-certification, and equilibrium fraud," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 627-644, November.
    68. Zago, Angelo M. & Pick, Daniel H., 2004. "Labeling Policies in Food Markets: Private Incentives, Public Intervention, and Welfare Effects," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 1-16, April.
    69. Brian Roe & Ian Sheldon, 2007. "Credence Good Labeling: The Efficiency and Distributional Implications of Several Policy Approaches," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(4), pages 1020-1033.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Sheldon, Ian & Roe, Brian & Olimov, Jafar, 2015. "“Regulation of Food Quality: Deep Capture and Economies of Scope between Innovation and Influence”," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212255, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:545-:d:94918 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Vera Danilina, 2017. "Trade Integration and the Polarisation of Eco-Labelling Strategies," AMSE Working Papers 1725, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France.
    4. Delmas, Magali A. & Gergaud, Olivier & Lim, Jinghui, 2016. "Does Organic Wine Taste Better? An Analysis of Experts' Ratings," Journal of Wine Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 329-354, December.
    5. Jibonayan Raychaudhuri & Ada Wossink, 2018. "Ecolabels and The EconomicRecession," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1807, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    6. Rudolf Kerschbamer & Daniel Neururer & Alexander Gruber, 2017. "Do the altruists lie less?," Working Papers 2017-18, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck, revised 09 Nov 2017.
    7. Pio Baake & Helene Naegele, 2017. "Competition between For-Profit and Industry Labels: The Case of Social Labels in the Coffee Market," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1686, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Moner-Colonques, R. & Rubio, S., 2015. "The timing of environmental policy in a duopolistic market," Economia Agraria y Recursos Naturales, Spanish Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 0(Number 01).
    9. Mika Kortelainen & Jibonayan Raychaudhuri & Beatrice Roussillon, 2016. "Effects Of Carbon Reduction Labels: Evidence From Scanner Data," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 1167-1187, April.
    10. Dorothée Brécard, 2017. "Consumer misperception of eco-labels, green market structure and welfare," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 340-364, June.
    11. repec:gbl:wpaper:2014-07 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:45-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Balcombe, Kelvin & Bradley, Dylan & Fraser, Iain & Hussein, Mohamud, 2016. "Consumer preferences regarding country of origin for multiple meat products," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 49-62.
    14. Ibrahima BARRY & Olivier BONROY & Paolo G. GARELLA, 2014. "Labelling by a for-Profit Certifier," Departmental Working Papers 2014-07, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano, revised 27 Feb 2016.
    15. Jianyu Yu & Zohra Bouamra-Mechemache & Angelo Zago, 2018. "What is in a Name? Information, Heterogeneity, and Quality in a Theory of Nested Names," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(1), pages 286-310.
    16. Li, Yi, 2016. "Competing eco-labels and product market competition," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235389, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    17. Birg, Laura & Voßwinkel, Jan S., 2014. "Minimum quality standards and compulsory labeling: More than the sum of its parts," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 226, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    18. Barry, I. & Bonroy, O. & Garella, P.G., 2015. "On taxes and subsidies with private eco-labeling," Working Papers 2015-09, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
    19. repec:ags:roaaec:254142 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Bonroy, Olivier & Garapin, Alexis & Hamilton, Stephen F. & Souza Monteiro, Diogo M., 2015. "Mislabelling in Collective Labels: an experimental analysis," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205482, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    21. repec:kap:regeco:v:52:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11149-017-9339-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Jihyun Eum, 2018. "Upgrading Product Quality: The Impact of Tariffs and Standards," Working Papers 2018-10, Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea.
    23. Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline, 2016. "Multiple Standards: the Case of the French Building Industry," Policy Papers 2016.08, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    24. Vera Danilina, 2017. "Polarisation of Eco-Labelling Strategies," Working Papers 2017.26, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    ASYMMETRIC INFORMATION; CERTIFICATION; CREDENCE GOODS; LABELING; MARKET POWER; POLITICAL ECONOMY; REGULATION; VERTICAL PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION; WELFARE;

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gbl:wpaper:2014-03. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Agnès Vertier). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/inragfr.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.