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Estimating the Effect of Salience in Wholesale and Retail Car Markets


  • Meghan R. Busse
  • Nicola Lacetera
  • Devin G. Pope
  • Jorge Silva-Risso
  • Justin R. Sydnor


We investigate whether the first digit of an odometer reading is more salient to consumers than subsequent digits. We find that retail transaction prices and volumes of used vehicles drop discontinuously at 10,000-mile odometer thresholds, echoing effects found in the wholesale market by Lacetera, Pope and Sydnor (2012). Our results reveal that retail consumers devote limited attention to evaluating vehicle mileage, and that this drives effects in the wholesale market. We estimate the inattention parameter implied by the price discontinuities. In addition, our results suggest that estimating consumer-level structural parameters using data from an intermediate market can give misleading results.

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  • Meghan R. Busse & Nicola Lacetera & Devin G. Pope & Jorge Silva-Risso & Justin R. Sydnor, 2013. "Estimating the Effect of Salience in Wholesale and Retail Car Markets," NBER Working Papers 18820, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18820
    Note: IO PR LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicola Lacetera & Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2012. "Heuristic Thinking and Limited Attention in the Car Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2206-2236, August.
    2. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
    3. Meghan Busse & Jorge Silva-Risso & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2006. "$1,000 Cash Back: The Pass-Through of Auto Manufacturer Promotions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1253-1270, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Feng, Andy & Graetz, Georg, 2017. "A question of degree: The effects of degree class on labor market outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 140-161.
    2. Joshua Goodman & Oded Gurantz & Jonathan Smith, 2020. "Take Two! SAT Retaking and College Enrollment Gaps," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 115-158, May.
    3. Fraser-Mackenzie, P. & Sung, M. & Johnson, J.E.V., 2015. "The prospect of a perfect ending: Loss aversion and the round-number bias," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 67-80.
    4. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Behavioral Consumers in Industrial Organization: An Overview," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 247-258, November.
    5. Schmitt, Stefanie Yvonne & Schlatterer, Markus G., 2020. "Poverty and limited attention," BERG Working Paper Series 159, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    6. Brown, Alasdair & Yang, Fuyu, 2016. "Limited cognition and clustered asset prices: Evidence from betting markets," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 27-46.
    7. Xide Zhu & Peijun Guo, 2020. "Bilevel programming approaches to production planning for multiple products with short life cycles," 4OR, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 151-175, June.
    8. Eva M. Berger & Felix Schmidt, 2017. "Inattention in the Rental Housing Market: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Papers 1716, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 06 Sep 2019.
    9. Pope, Devin G. & Pope, Jaren C. & Sydnor, Justin R., 2015. "Focal points and bargaining in housing markets," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 89-107.
    10. Königsheim, C. & Lukas, M. & Nöth, M., 2019. "Salience theory: Calibration and heterogeneity in probability distortion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 477-495.
    11. Meyer, Andrew G. & Hanson, Andrew R. & Hickman, Daniel C., 2017. "Perceptions of institutional quality: Evidence of limited attention to higher education rankings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 241-258.
    12. Guo, Peijun, 2019. "Focus theory of choice and its application to resolving the St. Petersburg, Allais, and Ellsberg paradoxes and other anomalies," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 276(3), pages 1034-1043.
    13. Lukas, Moritz, 2018. "The goal gradient effect and repayments in consumer credit," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 208-210.
    14. Kok, Robert, 2015. "Six years of CO2-based tax incentives for new passenger cars in The Netherlands: Impacts on purchasing behavior trends and CO2 effectiveness," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 137-153.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment

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