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Inspections and Information Disclosure: Quality Regulations with Incomplete Enforcement

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image of Frontiers of Economics in China

The weak enforcement and monitoring systems employed in China (e.g., insufficient inspection resources and negligible fines for noncompliance) are widely blamed for the growing unrest over food safety in the country. Given this development, we consider a model where quality inspection performed by agencies is a means of disclosing information on product quality. We analyze the price-quality equilibrium scheme and show that a higher probability of inspection leads to lower price premiums attached to qualified products. We further investigate the welfare effect of minimum quality standards and inspection efforts and show that they should be complementary. We finally suggest that a state dependent inspection strategy, such as not inspecting those firms that have previously been found to be noncompliant, will enhance social welfare.


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