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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. Di Tella, Rafael & Dubra, Juan, 2008. "Crime and punishment in the "American Dream"," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(7), pages 1564-1584, July.
  2. 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.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "The Rise of the Regulatory State," NBER Working Papers 8650, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  6. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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.
  8. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "The Regulation of Entry," Working Paper Series rwp01-015, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. 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.
  11. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  12. Julio J. Rotemberg, 2000. "Commercial Policy with Altruistic Voters," NBER Working Papers 7984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. 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.
  16. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  17. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "Reference-Dependent Risk Attitudes," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001267, UCLA Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
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