HKS Authors

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Governments have responded to misleading advertising by banning it, engaging in counter-advertising and taxing and regulating the product. In this paper, we consider the welfare effects of those different responses to misinformation. While misinformation lowers consumer surplus, its effect on social welfare is ambiguous. Misleading advertising leads to over-consumption but that may be offsetting the underconsumption associated with oligopoly outputs. If all advertising is misinformation then a tax or quantity restriction on advertising maximizes welfare, and other policy interventions are inferior. If firms undertake quality improving investments that are complementary to misinformation, then combining taxes or bans on misleading advertising with other policies can increase welfare.


Glaeser, Edward L., and Gergely Ujhelyi. "Regulating Misinformation." Journal of Public Economics 94.3-4 (April 2010): 247-257.