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Endogenous Market Thickness and Honesty : A Quality Trap Model

  • Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay

    (University of Birmingham)

Many emerging or transition economies lack institutional arrangements (like ISO certification) to credibly signal product quality. The absence of such institutions leads to low levels of market activity with poor quality products on sale. In this paper, we use a dynamic framework with asymmetric information to model this phenomenon. Sellers choose the quality they produce and face a trade-off between producing a high quality product, which gives low one period returns but leads to higher future profits, and a low quality product, which gives higher one period returns but bars the seller from future market activity. Sellers' differ in how they discount the future and thus in how they evaluate this trade-off. Demand is endogenous and the number of buyers that enter the market depends on the quality of the products they expect to find. Market thickness (the buyer-seller ratio), product quality, prices and the distribution of seller types are all endogenously determined and multiple steady states may emerge. In general, a sufficient number of sellers need to be patient for multiple steady states to exist. Technology that involves 'learning by doing' may cause market segregation. Importantly, sellers' expectations about market thickness matter in determining the quality only if sellers believe that market thickness will be less than one.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Industrial Organization with number 0408006.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 25 Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0408006
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 35. pdf file, 35 pages
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Alessandro Lizzeri & Igal Hendel, 1999. "Adverse Selection in Durable Goods Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1097-1115, December.
  2. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  3. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  4. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  5. Basu, Kaushik, 1986. "One Kind of Power," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 259-82, July.
  6. Shapiro, Carl, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-79, November.
  7. McLaren, J., 1996. "'Globalization' and Vertical Structure," Discussion Papers 1996_21, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  8. Grossman, Gene M & Horn, Henrik, 1988. "Infant-Industry Protection Reconsidered: The Case of Informational Barriers to Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(4), pages 767-87, November.
  9. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1988. "Industrialization and the Big Push," NBER Working Papers 2708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Adsera, Alicia & Ray, Debraj, 1998. " History and Coordination Failure," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 267-76, September.
  11. Kranton, Rachel E, 1996. "Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 830-51, September.
  12. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-76, August.
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