Estimating the Effect of Salience in Wholesale and Retail Car Markets

Meghan R. Busse, Nicola Lacetera, Devin G. Pope, Jorge Silva-Risso, Justin R. Sydnor

NBER Working Paper No. 18820
Issued in February 2013
NBER Program(s):   IO   PR   LS

We investigate whether the first digit of an odometer reading is more salient to consumers than subsequent digits. We find that retail transaction prices and volumes of used vehicles drop discontinuously at 10,000-mile odometer thresholds, echoing effects found in the wholesale market by Lacetera, Pope and Sydnor (2012). Our results reveal that retail consumers devote limited attention to evaluating vehicle mileage, and that this drives effects in the wholesale market. We estimate the inattention parameter implied by the price discontinuities. In addition, our results suggest that estimating consumer-level structural parameters using data from an intermediate market can give misleading results.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18820

Published: Meghan R. Busse & Nicola Lacetera & Devin G. Pope & Jorge Silva-Risso & Justin R. Sydnor, 2013. "Estimating the Effect of Salience in Wholesale and Retail Car Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 575-79, May. citation courtesy of

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