Consumer Policy and Market Norms: Routes of socioeconomic development abstracted from literature concerning consumer fraud and product safety

Author Name TANI Midori  (Senior Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. May 2008 08-P-003
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With interest in consumer policy growing recently, need has arisen for interdisciplinary study of the existing literature in this area. This paper presents information for Japanese consumer policy discussions. It includes a survey of analyses, policy documents, and comments by consumer groups and businesses related to policies for preventing consumer fraud and promoting product safety.

Among the information, I present literature and documents that support a notion that one cause of consumer problems is that "market norms have been weakening." I also show that among market norms there are "norms enforced by the state," "norms abided by as a result of socioeconomic pressure," and "norms abided by as a result of conscience," and I abstract some common items from a variety of literature with regard to methods of constructing market norms. I show that consumer policies are not limited to those enforced by the state. I also present examples of consumer policies that affect socioeconomic pressure and the conscience of individual players in the market.

In this way I argue that consumer policy should not be considered from the viewpoint of assuming a general confrontation structure between consumers and firms, and then determining on whose side the government stands. I suggest that it be considered from the standpoint of securing overall socioeconomic development and stability by consumers, firms, and the government all playing roles in building and maintaining market norms.