Quality Disclosure and Certification: Theory and Practice
57 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2010 Last revised: 2 Feb 2010
Date Written: January 2010
This essay reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on quality disclosure and certification. After comparing quality disclosure with other quality assurance mechanisms and describing a brief history of quality disclosure, we address three key theoretical issues: (i) Why don't sellers voluntarily disclose through a process of "unraveling?" (ii) When should government mandate disclosure? and (iii) Do certifiers necessarily report unbiased and accurate information? We further review empirical evidence on these issues, with a particular focus on healthcare, education, and finance. The empirical review covers quality measurement, the effect of third party disclosure on consumer choice and seller behavior, as well as the economics of certifiers.
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