Winston on Advertising Regs
By Bryan Caplan
Here’s a neat passage from Clifford Winston’s Government Failure versus Market Failure (complete book available for free downloading):
Calfee and Ringold (1994) focused on surveys of consumers’ attitudes toward advertising. Analyzing six decades of data that began in the 1930s, they found for each decade that 70 percent of consumers thought that advertising was often untruthful and sought to persuade people to buy things they did not want. (Nonetheless, consumers also believed that advertising provided useful information.) The authors argued that the stability of consumers’ beliefs about advertising through time — especially during the 1970s when advertising regulation moved from extreme laxity to unprecedented force and the 1980s when regulation receded—was inconsistent with the view that advertising regulation increased the credibility of advertising.
I’d call this another interesting application of my favorite undervalued economic methodology: learning by listening.