Article Title

The Role and Growth of New-Car Leasing: Theory and Evidence

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There has been substantial growth in rates of new-car leasing over the last few decades. Building on recent theoretical research, we construct a model of the leasing decision in which leasing mitigates adverse selection and reduces transaction costs, but moral hazard limits its use. In our model, the prevalence of leasing is related to new-car reliability, which suggests that the recent growth in leasing is at least partly due to improvements in new-car reliability. We use this model to derive testable implications and then conduct an empirical analysis to investigate whether the operation of the new- and used-car markets is consistent with the predictions of this theoretical approach. Our empirical results support the theoretical predictions of our model. In particular, we provide direct evidence that leasing mitigates adverse selection and that an important factor in the growth in new-car leasing rates has indeed been the growth of new-car reliability.

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