Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Competition and Consumer Protection: A Behavioral Economics Account

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Oren Bar-Gill, New York University (NYU) - School of Law explores Competition and Consumer Protection: A Behavioral Economics Account.

ABSTRACT: Do the benefits of competition extend to a world with imperfectly rational consumers? I argue that sellers, operating in a competitive market, will design their products, contracts and pricing schemes in response to consumer misconception, resulting in both efficiency losses and harm to consumers. Under certain conditions, competition provides incentives for sellers to educate consumers and reduce misconception, but these mistake-correction forces are limited. The existence of biased demand, generated by imperfectly rational consumers, creates a market failure – a behavioral market failure. Mandated disclosure, deliberately designed for imperfectly rational consumers, or for sophisticated intermediaries that advise imperfectly rational consumers, can help.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/antitrustprof_blog/2012/02/competition-and-consumer-protection-a-behavioral-economics-account.html

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