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.
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
Journal of Economic Theory, 2010/145, 1354-1385. With Jan Eeckhout. Search affects competing mechanisms: if meetings with low types reduce those of high types, price posting and market separation replace auctions. Go to paper
Journal of Economic Theory, 2009, 114(2), pp. 445-471. With Manolis Galenianos. We study wage dispersion and (in)efficiency in directed search when workers can strategically apply for multiple jobs but firms can only make one offer. Go to paper
B.E. Journals of Theoretical Economics, 2013, Vol 13 (1). With S. Ludwig and A. Sandroni. We document a revealed preference for randomization for “social goods”, while such non-standard behavior is not present for private consumption goods. Go to paper
Econometrica, 2019 87(4): 1081-1113. With J. Greenwood, C. Santos and M. Tertilt A calibrated equilibrium search model of an HIV/AIDS epidemic is developed to analyze the direct impact and the behavioral adjustment to policies. Go to paper
Inferring Risk Perceptions and Preferences using Choice from Insurance Menus: Theory and Evidence
Economic Journal, 2021 131: 713-744. With Ericson, Spinnewijn &, Starc Demand for insurance can be driven by high risk aversion or high risk, and we show how to separate the two using observed market shares. Go to paper
Econometrica, 2015, Vol 83 (5), 1849-1875. With K. Kim. [online appendix] We introduce cheap-talk into a market game and study if the equilibrium can replicate the constraint efficient allocation under (reserve) price posting. Go to paper
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