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Environmental Labeling and Incomplete Consumer Information in Laboratory Markets

Author

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  • Cason, T.N.
  • Gangadharan, L.

Abstract

Survey evidence suggests that consumers care about the environment and are willing to pay a higher price for a product that generates less environmental harm. We induce buyer preferences over quality in a laboratory posted offer market to study sellers' incentives to offer products of differing quality. Buyers are unaware of the product quality before purchase, as is the case for experience goods. We first document the market failure that arises from incomplete information when no signaling or reputations are possible. We then study various treatments that could remedy this failure. Seller reputations and unverified "cheap talk" signals sometimes increase the number of higher-valued 'clean' goods. The only reliable way to improve product quality in the experiment, however, is to use an external body that charges a fee to verify product quality claims.

Suggested Citation

  • Cason, T.N. & Gangadharan, L., 1999. "Environmental Labeling and Incomplete Consumer Information in Laboratory Markets," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 708, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:708
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
    2. Brozovsky, J. A. & Richardson, F. M., 1998. "The effects of information availability on the benefits accrued from enhancing audit-firm reputation," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 23(8), pages 767-779, November.
    3. Matthews, Steven A. & Okuno-Fujiwara, Masahiro & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1991. "Refining cheap-talk equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 247-273, December.
    4. Miller, Ross M & Plott, Charles R, 1985. "Product Quality Signaling in Experimental Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 837-872, July.
    5. Boulding, William & Kirmani, Amna, 1993. " A Consumer-Side Experimental Examination of Signaling Theory: Do Consumers Perceive Warranties as Signals of Quality?," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 111-123, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    MORAL HAZARD ; EXPERIMENTS ; ENVIRONMENT;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General

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