Products Liability, Signaling and Disclosure
In this paper we examine the behavior of a firm that produces a product with a privately-observed safety attribute; that is, consumers cannot observe directly the productï¿½s safety. The firm may, at a cost, disclose its safety prior to sale; alternatively, if a firm does not disclose its safety then consumers can attempt to infer its safety from the price charged. The liability system is important because it is a determinant of the firmï¿½s full marginal cost, which consists of both manufacturing cost and liability cost. If the firm does not bear substantial liability for a consumerï¿½s harm, then the firmï¿½s marginal cost consists mainly of manufacturing cost, which is presumably higher for safer products. On the other hand, if the firm does bear substantial liability for a consumerï¿½s harm, then the firmï¿½s marginal cost consists of both manufacturing cost and liability cost. In this case, it is quite possible for a firm producing a safer product to have lower full marginal cost. We characterize the firmï¿½s equilibrium disclosure and pricing behavior, and compare that behavior and the associated welfare to what would occur under a regime of mandatory disclosure. We derive a range of disclosure costs that would induce a high-safety firm to choose disclosure over signaling. When the firmï¿½s full marginal cost is increasing (decreasing) in safety, a firm with a high-safety product will sometimes inefficiently choose to signal rather than disclose (disclose rather than to signal). Furthermore, we find that whether ex ante information regulation (in the form of mandatory disclosure) or reliance on ex post liability that induces information revelation is the better policy also depends upon whether the firm faces substantial liability for a consumerï¿½s harm. Finally, we find that a small fraction of naively optimistic consumers (who always buy as if the product were of high safety) leads to higher profits for both less-safe and safer products, and a reduced incentive for voluntary disclosure.
|Date of creation:||Dec 2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html|
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.:
- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2006.
"Mandatory Versus Voluntary Disclosure of Product Risks,"
NBER Working Papers
12776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2006. "Mandatory versus Voluntary Disclosure of Product Risks," Discussion Papers 06-006, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1994.
"Product Safety: Liability, R&D and Signaling,"
Game Theory and Information
9403007, EconWPA, revised 30 Mar 1994.
- Claude Fluet & Paolo G. Garella, 1999.
"Advertising and Prices as Signals of Quality in a Regime of Price Rivalry,"
Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM
9903, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
- Fluet, Claude & Garella, Paolo G., 2002. "Advertising and prices as signals of quality in a regime of price rivalry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(7), pages 907-930, September.
- Steven Shavell, 1994. "Acquisition and Disclosure of Information Prior to Sale," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(1), pages 20-36, Spring.
- Kyle Bagwell, 1991.
"Pricing to Signal Product Line Quality,"
921, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Paul R. Milgrom, 1981.
"Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications,"
Bell Journal of Economics,
The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
- Paul R. Milgrom, 1979. "Good Nevs and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Discussion Papers 407R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997.
"Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
896, David K. Levine.
- Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2008.
"Imperfect competition and quality signalling,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 163-183.
- Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2005. "Imperfect Competition and Quality Signaling," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0520, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
- Boyan Jovanovic, 1982. "Truthful Disclosure of Information," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 36-44, Spring.
- Michael J. Fishman & Kathleen M. Hagerty, 2003. "Mandatory Versus Voluntary Disclosure in Markets with Informed and Uninformed Customers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 45-63, April.
- 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.
- Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
- 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 615-41, August.
- Steven Matthews & Andrew Postlewaite, 1985. "Quality Testing and Disclosure," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(3), pages 328-340, Autumn.
- Insuk Cheong & Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2004. "Costly Information Disclosure in Oligopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 121-132, 03.
- Shiou Shieh, 1993. "Incentives for Cost-Reducing Investment in a Signalling Model of Product Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 466-477, Autumn.
- Helmut Bester, 1998. "Quality Uncertainty Mitigates Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 828-844, Winter.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0625. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John P. Conley)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.