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Screening and Adverse Selection in Frictional Markets

Benjamin Lester, Ali Shourideh, Venky Venkateswaran, Ariel Zetlin-Jones

NBER Working Paper No. 21833
Issued in December 2015, Revised in February 2017
NBER Program(s):The Health Care Program, The Health Economics Program, The Industrial Organization Program

We incorporate a search-theoretic model of imperfect competition into an otherwise standard model of asymmetric information with unrestricted contracts. We develop a methodology that allows for a sharp analytical characterization of the unique equilibrium, and then use this characterization to explore the interaction between adverse selection, screening, and imperfect competition. We show how the structure of equilibrium contracts—and hence the relationship between an agent’s type, the quantity he trades, and the corresponding price—is jointly determined by the severity of adverse selection and the concentration of market power. This suggests that quantifying the effects of adverse selection requires controlling for the market structure. We also show that increasing competition and reducing informational asymmetries can be detrimental to welfare. This suggests that recent attempts to increase competition and reduce opacity in markets that suffer from adverse selection could potentially have negative, unforeseen consequences.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21833

Published: Benjamin Lester & Ali Shourideh & Venky Venkateswaran & Ariel Zetlin-Jones, 2019. "Screening and Adverse Selection in Frictional Markets," Journal of Political Economy, vol 127(1), pages 338-377.

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