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Credence Goods, Costly Diagnosis, and Subjective Evaluation

Listed author(s):
  • Bester, Helmut
  • Dahm, Matthias

We study contracting between a consumer and an expert. The expert can invest in diagnosis to obtain a noisy signal about whether a low–cost service is sufficient or whether a high–cost treatment is required to solve the consumer’s problem. This involves moral hazard because diagnosis effort and signals are not observable. Treatments are contractible, but success or failure of the low–cost treatment is observed only by the consumer. Payments can therefore not depend on the objective outcome but only the consumer’s report, or subjective evaluation. A failure of the low–cost treatment delays the solution of the consumer’s problem by the high–cost treatment to a second period. We show that the first–best solution can always be implemented if the parties’ discount rate is zero; an increase in the discount rate reduces the range of parameter combinations for which the first–best can be obtained. In an extension we show that the first–best is also always implementable if diagnosis and treatment can be separated by contracting with two different agents.

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File URL: https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/21900/1/483.pdf
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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 483.

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Date of creation: 2014
Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:483
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  1. Bonroy, Olivier & Lemarié, Stéphane & Tropéano, Jean-Philippe, 2013. "Credence goods, experts and risk aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 464-467.
  2. Liu, Ting & Ma, Ching-to Albert, 2013. "Health insurance, treatment plan, and delegation to altruistic physician," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 79-96.
  3. Clemens Hetschko, 2016. "On the misery of losing self-employment," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 461-478, August.
  4. Ricardo Alonso & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "Optimal Delegation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 259-293.
  5. Uwe Dulleck & Jiong Gong & Jianpei Li, 2015. "Contracting for Infrastructure Projects as Credence Goods," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(3), pages 328-345, 06.
  6. Gabszewicz, Jean J. & Resende, Joana, 2012. "Differentiated credence goods and price competition," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 277-287.
  7. Kris De Jaegher & Marc Jegers, 2001. "The physician-patient relationship as a game of strategic information transmission," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(7), pages 651-668.
  8. William Fuchs, 2007. "Contracting with Repeated Moral Hazard and Private Evaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1432-1448, September.
  9. Konstantinos Giannakas, 2002. "Information Asymmetries and Consumption Decisions in Organic Food Product Markets," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 50(1), pages 35-50, 03.
  10. Yuk-fai Fong, 2005. "When Do Experts Cheat and Whom Do They Target?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
  11. Jeffrey Clemens & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2014. "Do Physicians' Financial Incentives Affect Medical Treatment and Patient Health?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1320-1349, April.
  12. Wolfgang Pesendorfer & Asher Wolinsky, 2003. "Second Opinions and Price Competition: Inefficiency in the Market for Expert Advice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 417-437.
  13. Dulleck, Uwe & Kerschbamer, Rudolf, 2009. "Experts vs. discounters: Consumer free-riding and experts withholding advice in markets for credence goods," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 15-23, January.
  14. repec:bla:joares:v:25:y:1987:i:1:p:68-89 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Ingela Alger & François Salanié, 2006. "A Theory of Fraud and Overtreatment in Experts Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(4), pages 853-881, December.
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