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Anger and Regulation

  • Rafael Di Tella
  • Juan Dubra

We propose a model where voters experience an emotional cost when they observe a firm that has displayed insufficient concern for other people's welfare (altruism) in the process of making high profits. Even with few truly altruistic firms, an equilibrium may emerge where all firms pretend to be kind and refrain from charging "abusive" prices to their customers. Our main result is that, as competition decreases, the set of parameters for which such pooling equilibria exist beomes smaller and firms are more likely to anger consumers. Regulation can increase welfare, for example, through fines (even if there are no changes in prices). We illustrate these gains in a monopoly setting, where regulation affects welfare through 3 channels (i) a reduction in monopoly price leads to the production of units that cost less than their value to consumers (standard channel); (ii) regulation calms down existing consumers because a reduction in the profits of an "unkind" firm increases total welfare by reducing consumer anger (anger channel); and (iii) individuals who were out of the market when they were excessively angry in the unregulated market, decide to purchase once the firm is regulated, reducing the standard distortions described in the first channel (mixed channel).

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15201.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15201.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Publication status: published as Rafael Tella & Juan Dubra, 2014. "Anger and Regulation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(3), pages 734-765, 07.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15201
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  1. Botond Kőszegi & Paul Heidhues, 2008. "Competition and Price Variation When Consumers Are Loss Averse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1245-68, September.
  2. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Rafael Di Tella & Juan Dubra, 2006. "Crime and Punishment in the "American Dream"," NBER Working Papers 12641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Jean-Robert Tyran & Dirk Engelmann, 2002. "To Buy or Not to Buy? An Experimental Study of Consumer Boycotts in Retail Markets," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-13, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
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  12. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation Of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37, February.
  13. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2008. "Minimally acceptable altruism and the ultimatum game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(3-4), pages 457-476, June.
  14. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  15. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  16. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2000. "Commercial Policy with Altruistic Voters," NBER Working Papers 7984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2005. "Customer anger at price increases, changes in the frequency of price adjustment and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 829-852, May.
  18. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
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