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The market for quacks

Spiegler, R.; (2006) The market for quacks. (ELSE Working Papers 228). ESRC Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

A group of n"quacks" plays a price-competition game, facing a continuum of "patients" who recover with probability α, whether they acquire a quack's "treatment". If patients chose rationally, the market would be inactive. I assume, however, that patients choose according to a boundedly rational procedure, which reflects "anecdotal" reasoning. This element of bounded rationality has significant implications. The market for quacks is active, and patients suffer a welfare loss which behaves non-monotonically w.r.t. n and α. In an extended model that endogenizes the quacks' choice of "treatments", the quacks minimize the force of price competition by offering maximally differentiated treatments. The patients' welfare loss is robust to market interventions, which would crowd out low-quality firms in standard models. Thus, as long as the patients' quality of reasoning is not lifted above the anecdotal level, ordinary competition policies may be ineffective.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: The market for quacks
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://else.econ.ucl.ac.uk/newweb/papers.php#2006
Language: English
Additional information: Please see http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/12644/ for the version published in the Review of Economic Studies
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/14511
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