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Monitoring Eco-Labels: You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing


  • Thomas Liebi


An increasing number of product labels is making environmental claims. Typically, these claims are non-verifiable to consumers, they represent a credence attribute of the product. The usual way to handle this problem is external monitoring of such labels. We consider a model where firms in a competitive market choose product quality and the intensity of monitoring. It is shown that all the firms producing the high quality credence good will choose the same level of monitoring, i.e., an industry standard will evolve. However, in a competitive equilibrium there will be more monitoring than is socially desirable.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Liebi, 2002. "Monitoring Eco-Labels: You Can Have Too Much of a Good Thing," Diskussionsschriften dp0207, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  • Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp0207

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andersson, Fredrik, 2002. "Pooling reputations," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 715-730, May.
    2. Winand Emons, 1997. "Credence Goods and Fraudelent Experts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 107-119, Spring.
    3. Thomas Liebi, 2002. "Trusting Labels: A Matter of Numbers?," Diskussionsschriften dp0201, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    4. Luis M.B. Cabral, 2000. "Stretching Firm and Brand Reputation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(4), pages 658-673, Winter.
    5. Jay Pil Choi, 1998. "Brand Extension as Informational Leverage," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 655-669.
    6. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
    7. Emons, Winand, 2001. "Credence goods monopolists," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 375-389, March.
    8. Telser, L G, 1980. "A Theory of Self-enforcing Agreements," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 27-44, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bandyopadhyay, Siddhartha, 2013. "Market thickness, prices and honesty: A quality demand trap," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 52-59.
    2. Thomas Liebi, 2003. "The Demand for Tests," Diskussionsschriften dp0307, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.

    More about this item


    credence goods; labels; monitoring; product quality;

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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