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Shrouded Attributes and the Curse of Educatoin


  • David Laibson
  • Xavier Gabaix


Some consumers fail to observe shrouded product attributes when they buy a new product. For example, an account holder may not know their bank's fee schedule. Firms will choose high shrouded fees and compete to attract consumers with loss-leader base goods: e.g., banks will offer free gifts for opening an account and then snare naive consumers with high fees for bouncing a check. Sophisticated consumers take the free gifts and avoid the shrouded fees. Under weak conditions, firms will not be able to profitably attract consumers by advertising low add-on prices, since sophisticated consumers would rather pool with naive consumers at shrouded firms then switch to transparent firms with low add-on fees and no free gifts. Bertrand competition breaks down and monopoly pricing of the add-on persists even in markets with high levels of competition and costless advertising

Suggested Citation

  • David Laibson & Xavier Gabaix, 2004. "Shrouded Attributes and the Curse of Educatoin," 2004 Meeting Papers 673, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:673

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    More about this item


    bounded rationality; behavioral economics; behavioral industrial organization; shrouded attributes; loss leader; myopia; add-on; profit center; complexity; confusion; discrete choice.;

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • L00 - Industrial Organization - - General - - - General


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