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Are Durable Goods Consumers Forward-Looking? Evidence from College Textbooks

By Judith Chevalier and Austan Goolsbee

Abstract

We test whether textbook consumers are forward-looking, using a large new data set on textbooks sold in college bookstores during the ten semesters from 1997 to 2001. The data strongly support the hypothesis that students are forward-looking with low short-run discount rates and that they behave as if they have rational expectations of publishers' revision behavior. Data from a second new data set on the market prices of used books at Amazon Marketplace also support the hypothesis of rational, forward-looking behavior. Simulation results indicate that students are sufficiently forward-looking that publishers cannot consistently raise revenue by accelerating current revision cycles. (c) 2009 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

DOI identifier: 10.1162/qjec.2009.124.4.1853
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