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A Simple Theory of Advertising as a Good or Bad

Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy
The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Vol. 108, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 941-964
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2118455
Page Count: 24
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A Simple Theory of Advertising as a Good or Bad
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Abstract

Our analysis treats advertisements and the goods advertised as complements in stable metautility functions, and generates new results for advertising by building on and extending the general analysis of complements. By assimilating the theory of advertising into the theory of complements, we avoid the special approaches to advertising found in many studies that place obstacles in the way of understanding the effects of advertising. We also use this approach to evaluate advertising from a welfare perspective. Whether there is excessive or too little advertising depends on several variables: the effects on consumer utility, the degree of competition in the market for advertised goods, the induced changes in prices and outputs of advertised goods, and whether advertising is sold to consumers.

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