Better-informed consumers may be treated preferentially by firms because their consumption serves as a quality signal for other customers. For normal goods this results in wealthy individuals being treated better than poor individuals. We investigate this phenomenon in an equilibrium model of social learning with heterogeneous consumers and firms that act strategically. Consumers search for high quality firms and condition their choices on observed actions of other consumers. When they observe consumers who are more likely to have identified a high-quality firm, uninformed individuals will optimally emulate those consumers. One group of consumers arise endogenously as “leaders” whose consumption behavior is emulated. Follow-on sales induce firms to give preferential treatment to these lead consumers, which reinforces their learning.
Strategic Firms and Endogenous Consumer Emulation
Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2008/123(2), pp. 621-661. With A. Postlewaite.
In a model of social learning, the better informed (wealthier) consumers get preferential service because their consumption signals high quality to others.
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American Economic Journal - Macroeconomics, forthcoming 2022, with Michèle Belot and Paul Muller. In a field experiment, we study how job seekers respond to posted wages by assigning wages randomly to pairs of otherwise similar vacancies in a large number of professions. Higher wages attract significantly more interest, but still a non-trivial number of applicants only reveal an interest in the low wage vacancy - qualitatively in line with a directed search model with multiple applications and on-the-job search. Go to paper
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International Economic Review, 2011, 52(1), pp 85-104. With M. Galenianos and G. Virag. [technical appendix] In directed search with a finite population, minimum wages improve employment but reduce output and efficiency, and reverse for unemployment benefits. Go to paper
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