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The Markup for Lemons: Quality and Uncertainty in American and British Used-Car Markets, c. 1953-1973

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Abstract

Automobile depreciation rates and dealer markups in the United States and Britain during the 1950s and 1960s provide evidence on the effect of asymmetric information on market structures. Initial depreciation was not exceptional, and trade was not disabled. ‘Lemon’ effects were evident in some periods but not others. Depreciation and markups increased with mechanical and styling uncertainty. Adverse selection kicked in as cars aged: high selling costs caused dealers to withdraw from trading older cars. Despite their lower quality, British makes depreciated less, probably due to different novelty signals and longer styling cycles.

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  • Avner Offer, 2005. "The Markup for Lemons: Quality and Uncertainty in American and British Used-Car Markets, c. 1953-1973," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _060, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_060
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2296/60offer.pdf
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    1. David W. Harless & George E. Hoffer, 2002. "Do Women Pay More for New Vehicles? Evidence from Transaction Price Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 270-279, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Alessandro Lizzeri & Igal Hendel, 1999. "Adverse Selection in Durable Goods Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1097-1115, December.
    4. Pashigian, B Peter & Bowen, Brian & Gould, Eric, 1995. "Fashion, Styling, and the Within-Season Decline in Automobile Prices," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 281-309, October.
    5. Frank C. Wykoff, 1973. "A User Cost Approach to New Automobile Purchases," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(3), pages 377-390.
    6. Coase, Ronald H, 1972. "Durability and Monopoly," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 143-149, April.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Camilla Brautaset & Regina Grafe, 2006. "The Quiet Transport Revolution: Returns to scale, scope and network density in Norway's nineteenth-century sailing fleet," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _062, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    2. J.Humphries & T. Leunig, 2007. "Cities, Market Integration and Going to Sea: Stunting and the standard of living in early nineteenth-century England and Wales," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _066, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    3. Asadullah, Mohammad Niaz, 2010. "Educational Disparity in East and West Pakistan, 1947-71: Was East Pakistan Discriminated Against?," Bangladesh Development Studies, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), vol. 33(3), pages 1-46, September.
    4. Natalia Mora-Sitja, 2006. "Exploring Changes in Earnings Inequality during Industrialization: Barcelona, 1856-1905," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W61, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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