“The Market for ‘Lemons'” is a key article written by George Akerlof in , which aims to explain some of the market failures derived from. George Akerlof, along with Michael Spence and Joseph Stiglitz, received the In his classic article, “The Market for Lemons” Akerlof gave a new. The Market for “Lemons”: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism. Author( s): George A. Akerlof. Source: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 84, No.

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The withdrawal of good cars reduces the average quality of cars on the market, causing buyers to revise downward their expectations for any given car.

This means that the owner of a carefully maintained, never-abused, good used car will be unable to get a high enough price to make selling that car worthwhile. This mechanism is repeated until a no-trade equilibrium is reached.

Purchasers who knowingly purchase a car in “as is” condition accept the defects and void their rights under the “lemon law”. In California and federal law, “Lemon Laws” cover anything mechanical. Journal of Economic Perspectives. But sellers know whether they hold a peach or a lemon.

Rejected Classic Articles by Leading Economists”.

The Market for Lemons – Wikipedia

This, in turn, motivates the owners of moderately good cars not aerlof sell, and so on. An example of this might be the subjective quality of fine food and wine. There are good used cars “peaches” and defective used cars “lemons”normally as a consequence of several not-always-traceable variables, such as the owner’s driving style, quality and frequency of maintenance, and accident history.

Then they are only willing to pay a fixed price for a car that averages the value of a “peach” and “lemon” together p avg. As a consequence of the mechanism described in this paper, markets may fail to exist altogether in certain situations involving quality uncertainty. The federal “lemon law” also provides that the warrantor may be obligated to pay the attorney fees akfrlof the party prevailng in a lemon law suit, as do most state lemon laws.

The Market for Lemons

These state laws provide remedies to consumers for automobiles that repeatedly fail to meet certain standards of quality and performance.


In this model, as quality is indistinguishable beforehand by the buyer due to the asymmetry of informationincentives exist for the seller to pass off low-quality goods as higher-quality ones. Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism ” is a well-known [1] paper by economist George Akerlof which examines how the quality of goods traded in a market can degrade in the presence of information akerlog between buyers and sellers, leaving only “lemons” behind.

In American slang, a lemon is a car that is found to be defective only after it has been bought. Market demand is given by:.

Retrieved from ” https: This is likely the basis for the idiom that an informed consumer is a better consumer. Five years lemoj Akerlof’s paper was published, the United States enacted a federal “lemon law” the Magnuson—Moss Warranty Act that protects citizens of all states.

Libertarianslike William L. Individual consumers know best what they prefer to eat, and quality is almost always assessed in fine establishments by smell and taste before they pay. Thus, a large variety of better-quality and higher-priced restaurants are supported.

This is part of the basis for the idiom buyer beware. However, a definition of ‘highest quality’ for food eludes providers. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. There are also state laws regarding “lemons” which vary by state and may not necessarily cover used or leased vehicles.

Therefore, owners of good cars will not place their cars on the used car market. The result is that a market in which there is asymmetric information with respect to quality shows characteristics similar to those described by Gresham’s Law: Only the average quality of the goods will be considered, which in turn will have the side effect that goods that are above average in terms of quality will be driven out of the market.

If a car has to be repaired for the same defect four or more times and the problem is still occurring, the car may be deemed to be “a lemon”. The paper by Akerlof describes how the interaction between quality heterogeneity and asymmetric information can lead to the disappearance of a market where guarantees are indefinite. Akerlof’s paper shows how prices can determine the quality of goods traded on the market. A used car is one in which ownership is transferred from one person to another, after a period of use by its first owner and its inevitable wear and tear.


Akerlof’s paper uses the market for used cars as an example of the problem of quality uncertainty. Both the American Economic Review and the Review of Economic Studies rejected the paper for “triviality”, while the reviewers for Journal of Political Economy rejected it as incorrect, arguing that, if this paper were correct, then no goods could be traded. Adverse selection is a market mechanism that can lead to a market collapse.

However, not all players in a given market will follow the same rules or have the same aptitude of assessing quality. The Economics of Price Discrimination. Hoffer and Michael D.

The buyer, however, takes this incentive into consideration, and takes the quality of the goods to be uncertain. The rights afforded to consumers by “lemon laws” may exceed the warranties expressed in purchase contracts.


Quarterly Journal of Economics. Journal of Consumer Policy. Low prices drive away sellers of high-quality goods, leaving only lemons behind. Because many important mechanical parts and other elements are hidden from view and not easily accessible for inspection, the buyer akdrlof a car does not know beforehand whether it is a peach or a lemon. So there will always be a distinct advantage for some vendors akerllof offer low-quality goods to the less-informed segment of a market that, on the whole, appears to be of reasonable quality and have reasonable guarantees of certainty.

InAkerlof, along with Michael Spenceand Joseph Stiglitzjointly received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciencesakerof their research on issues related to asymmetric information. This page was last edited on maret Juneat Eventually, as enough sellers of “peaches” leave the market, the average willingness-to-pay of buyers will decrease since the average quality of cars on the market decreasedleading to even more sellers of high-quality cars to leave the market through a positive feedback loop.