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Second Opinions and Price Competition: Inefficiency in the Market for Expert Advice

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  • W. Pesendorfer
  • A. Wolinsky

Abstract

We analyze a market where the consumer must rely on expers to identify the correct type of service. Medical services, repair services and various types of consulting and advisory services belong to this broad category. Our focus is on situations where the diagnosis of the consumer's needs is costly and the expert's effort is unobservable. We develop a model where experts offer competing contracts and consumers may gather multiple opinions. In various contractual settings, we explore the incentives that a competitive sampling of prices and opinions provides for experts to exert effort. We find that there is a tension between price competition and quality of the advise provided in equilibrium. Under all the contracting scenarios considered, the equilibrium fails to realize the second best welfare optimum. In some of the cases, no gains from trade are realized. On the other hand, limiting price competition via price control increases total welfare.
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Suggested Citation

  • W. Pesendorfer & A. Wolinsky, 2000. "Second Opinions and Price Competition: Inefficiency in the Market for Expert Advice," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 00s18, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:prinet:00s18
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacob Glazer & Thomas G. McGuire, 1991. "The Economics of Referrals," Papers 0020, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
    2. Winand Emons, 1997. "Credence Goods and Fraudelent Experts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 107-119, Spring.
    3. 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.
    4. Asher Wolinsky, 1993. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 380-398, Autumn.
    5. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
    6. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
    7. Pitchik, Carolyn & Schotter, Andrew, 1987. "Honesty in a Model of Strategic Information Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1032-1036, December.
    8. Asher Wolinsky, 1983. "Prices as Signals of Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 647-658.
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