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Sequential screening
Courty, Pascal; Hao, Li
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
We present a model of price discrimination where a monopolistfaces a consumer who is privately informed about thedistribution of his valuation for an indivisible unit ofgood but has yet to learn privately the actual valuation.The monopolist sequentially screens the consumer with amenu of contracts:the consumer self-selects once by choosing a contract andthen self-selects again when he learns the actual valuation. A deterministic sequential mechanism is a menu of refundcontracts, each consisting of an advance payment and a refundamount in case of no consumption, but sequential mechanismsmay involve randomization.We characterize the optimal sequential mechanism when someconsumer types are more eager in the sense of first-orderstochastic dominance, and when some types face greatervaluation uncertainty in the sense of mean-preserving-spread.We show that it can be optimal to subsidize consumer typeswith smaller valuation uncertainty (through low refund, as inairplane ticket pricing) in order to reduce the rent to thosewith greater uncertainty. The size of distortion depends bothon the type distribution and on how informative the consumer'sinitial private knowledge is about his valuation, but noton how much he initially knows about the valuation per se.
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