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.
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
American Economic Review P&P, 2017, 107(5): 158–162 With J. Greenwood, C. Santos & M. Tertilt. In a quantitative equilibrium model of sexual behavior and HIV/AIDS transmission we study policies that encourage long-term partnerships. Go to paper
Econometrica. 2018 86(1): 85-132. With Jan Eeckhout. When heterogeneous firms can choose both how many and which workers to hire, we illustrate consequences for firm-size and wage inequality. Note a correction for the condition with capital: corrigendum. 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
Journal of Political Economy, 2017, 124(1), 224-264. With G. Grossman & E. Helpman. (simulations, matlab). We introduce two-sided heterogeneity into a Hecksher-Ohlin-style trade model to study factor reallocation and wage inequality within and across sectors. Go to paper