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Patterns of Trade in the Market for Used Durables: Theory and Evidence

  • Robert H. Porter
  • Peter Sattler

The consumption value of a durable good diminishes as it ages due to physical deterioration and consumers' preference for the new. We develop a model of consumer specialization and trade in the market for used durables based on imperfect substitutability. Imperfect substitutability across vintages is reflected in a declining market price over time. Heterogeneous consumers maximize utility by specializing in durables of differing ages. Consumers must trade to acquire their preferred vintage each period. When there are transaction costs in the secondhand market, the volume of trade due to specialization increases with imperfect substitutability. We examine the determinants of vehicle ownership transfers in Illinois, a measure of trade volume. Observed patterns of trade across automobile model years are consistent with our model, and inconsistent with a model of adverse selection.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7149.

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Date of creation: May 1999
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Publication status: published as With Kenneth Hendricks, published as "Bidding Behaviour in OCS Drainage Auctions: Theory and Evidence", European Economic Review, Vol. 37, nos. 2/3 (1993): 320-328.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7149
Note: IO
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  1. Coase, Ronald H, 1972. "Durability and Monopoly," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 143-49, April.
  2. Benjamin, Daniel K & Kormendi, Roger C, 1974. "The Interrelationship between Markets for New and Used Durable Goods," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 381-401, October.
  3. Bond, Eric W, 1982. "A Direct Test of the "Lemons" Model: The Market for Used Pickup Trucks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 836-40, September.
  4. Devavrat Purohit, 1992. "Exploring the Relationship Between the Markets for New and Used Durable Goods: The Case of Automobiles," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(2), pages 154-167.
  5. Genesove, David, 1993. "Adverse Selection in the Wholesale Used Car Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 644-65, August.
  6. Bruce W Hamilton & Molly Macauley, 1996. "Competition and Car Longevity," Economics Working Paper Archive 361, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  7. Liebowitz, S J, 1982. "Durability, Market Structure, and New-Used Goods Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 816-24, September.
  8. Varian, Hal R, 2000. "Buying, Sharing and Renting Information Goods," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(4), pages 473-88, December.
  9. Miller, H Laurence, Jr, 1974. "On Killing off the Market for Used Textbooks and the Relationship between Markets for New and Secondhand Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(3), pages 612-19, May/June.
  10. Waldman, Michael, 1993. "A New Perspective on Planned Obsolescence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 273-83, February.
  11. Alessandro Lizzeri & Igal Hendel, 1999. "Adverse Selection in Durable Goods Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1097-1115, December.
  12. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  13. Waldman, Michael, 1997. "Eliminating the Market for Secondhand Goods: An Alternative Explanation for Leasing," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(1), pages 61-92, April.
  14. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "Durable-Goods Monopolists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(2), pages 314-32, April.
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