Can Consumers Detect Lemons? Information Asymmetry in the Market for Child Care
This paper applies direct tests for adverse selection and moral hazard in the market for child care. A unique data set containing quality measures of various characteristics of child care provided by 746 rooms in 400 centers, as well as the evaluation of the same attributes by 3,490 affiliated consumers (parents) is employed. Comparisons of consumer evaluations of quality to actual quality show that, after adjusting for scale effects, parents are weakly rational. The hypothesis of strong rationality is rejected, indicating that parents do not utilize all available information in forming their assessment of quality. Parent characteristics impact the accuracy of their evaluations. An analysis of easy-to-observe versus difficult-to-observe aspects of quality reveals that parents are trying to extract signals more heavily in cases of difficult-to-observe items. A comparison of parent assessments to results obtained from standard quality production functions reveals that, for the most part, parents interpret the signals incorrectly. The results demonstrate the existence of information asymmetry and adverse selection in the market. There is some limited evidence for moral hazard as nonprofit centers with very clean reception areas tend to produce lower level of quality for unobservable items. These results provide an explanation for low average quality in the child care market.
|Date of creation:||May 2001|
|Publication status:||published as Naci Mocan, 2007. "Can consumers detect lemons? An empirical analysis of information asymmetry in the market for child care," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 743-780, October.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Feenberg, Daniel R, et al, 1989.
"Testing the Rationality of State Revenue Forecasts,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 71(2), pages 300-308, May.
- Daniel R. Feenberg & William Gentry & David Gilroy & Harvey S. Rosen, 1988. "Testing the Rationality of State Revenue Forecasts," NBER Working Papers 2628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Feenberg, D.R. & Gentry, W. & Gilroy, D. & Rosen, H.S., 1988. "Testing The Rationality Of State Revenue Forecasts," Papers 16, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
- Michael P. Keane & David E. Runkle, 1998. "Are Financial Analysts' Forecasts of Corporate Profits Rational?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 768-805, August.
- Rosenman, Robert E & Wilson, Wesley W, 1991. "Quality Differentials and Prices: Are Cherries Lemons?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(6), pages 649-658, December.
- Carl Shapiro, 1982. "Consumer Information, Product Quality, and Seller Reputation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 20-35, Spring.
- Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
- Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-1346, December.
- Bruce C. Greenwald & Robert R. Glasspiegel, 1983. "Adverse Selection in the Market for Slaves: New Orleans, 1830â€“1860," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 479-499.
- von Ungern-Sternberg, Thomas & von Weizsacker, Carl Christian, 1985. "The Supply of Quality on a Market for "Experience Goods."," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 531-551, June.
- Mocan, H Naci, 1995. "Quality-Adjusted Cost Functions for Child-Care Centers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 409-413, May.
- H. Naci Mocan, 1995. "Quality Adjusted Cost Functions for Child Care Centers," NBER Working Papers 5040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Carl Shapiro, 1986. "Investment, Moral Hazard, and Occupational Licensing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(5), pages 843-862.
- Thomas N. Hubbard, 1998. "An Empirical Examination of Moral Hazard in the Vehicle Inspection Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(2), pages 406-426, Summer.
- Mocan, H. Naci & Azad, Sam, 1995. "Accuracy and rationality of state General Fund Revenue forecasts: Evidence from panel data," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 417-427, September.
- Russell Cooper & Thomas W. Ross, 1984. "Prices, Product Qualities and Asymmetric Information: The Competitive Case," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 197-207.
- Mullineaux, Donald J, 1978. "On Testing for Rationality: Another Look at the Livingston Price Expectations Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(2), pages 329-336, April.
- Robert Heinkel, 1981. "Uncertain Product Quality: The Market for Lemons with an Imperfect Testing Technology," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 625-636, Autumn.
- repec:mpr:mprres:1672 is not listed on IDEAS
- H. Naci Mocan, 1997. "Cost Functions, Efficiency, and Quality in Day Care Centers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 861-891.
- Genesove, David, 1993. "Adverse Selection in the Wholesale Used Car Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 644-665, August.
- Asher Wolinsky, 1983. "Prices as Signals of Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 647-658.
- George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
- David M. Blau, 1997. "The Production of Quality in Child Care Centers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 354-387. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)