Environmental labeling and incomplete consumer information in laboratory markets

Timothy N. Cason, Lata Gangadharan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


Survey evidence suggests that consumers care about the environment and are willing to pay a higher price for a product that generates less environmental harm. We induce buyer preferences over quality in a laboratory posted offer market to study sellers' incentives to offer products of differing quality. Buyers are unaware of the product quality before purchase, as is often the case for goods with differing environmental quality. We first document the market failure that arises from incomplete information when no signaling or reputations are possible. We then study various treatments that could remedy this failure. Seller reputations and unverified "cheap talk" signals sometimes increase the number of higher-valued "green" goods. The only reliable way to improve product quality in the experiment, however, is to use a third party that charges a fee to certify product quality claims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-134
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • Certification
  • Environmental goods
  • Experiments
  • Green labeling
  • Moral hazard

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