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A Search Model of Experience Goods

Chen, Yongmin and Li, zhuozheng and Zhang, Tianle (2019): A Search Model of Experience Goods.

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Abstract

The economics literature on consumer search has focused on inspection goods, the quality of which is observed before purchase. This paper studies a model of experience goods where consumers search for desired varieties but can observe product quality only after consumption. The model yields price and welfare results that are contrary to those for inspection goods. Specifically, we find that equilibrium price may rise even when search intensity is higher and, under plausible conditions, both consumer and social welfare are initially increasing in search cost. Our analysis shows that quality observability is a key determinant of how search markets function.

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