Secrecy and Safety

49 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2003

See all articles by Andrew F. Daughety

Andrew F. Daughety

Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University

Jennifer F. Reinganum

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 2003


We employ a simple two-period model to show that the use of confidential settlement as a strategy for a firm facing tort litigation leads to lower average product safety than that which would be produced if a firm were committed to openness. Moreover, confidentiality can even lead to declining average product safety over time. We also show that a rational risk-neutral consumer's response to a market environment, wherein a firm engages in confidential settlement agreements, may be to reduce demand. We discuss how firm profitability is influenced by the decision to have open or confidential settlements; all else equal, a firm following a policy of openness will pay higher equilibrium wages and incur higher training costs, though product demand will not be diminished (as it may be for a firm employing confidentiality). Further, we characterize the choice of regime, providing conditions such that, if the cost of credible auditing (to verify openness) is low enough, a firm will choose to pay for auditing and eschew confidentiality.

JEL Classification: D82, K13, L15

Suggested Citation

Daughety, Andrew F. and Reinganum, Jennifer F., Secrecy and Safety (September 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Andrew F. Daughety (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University ( email )

PMB 351819
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1819
United States
615-322-3453 (Phone)
615-343-8495 (Fax)


Jennifer F. Reinganum

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
615-322-2937 (Phone)
615-343-8495 (Fax)

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics