Consumers' Privacy Choices in the Era of Big Data

Jens Prüfer, Sebastian Dengler

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Recent progress in information technologies provides sellers with detailed knowledge about consumers' preferences, approaching perfect price discrimination
in the limit. We construct a model where consumers with less strategic sophistication than the seller's pricing algorithm face a trade-off when buying. They choose between a direct, transaction cost-free sales channel and a privacy-protecting, but costly, anonymous channel. We show that the anonymous channel is used even in the absence of an explicit taste for privacy if consumers are not too strategically sophisticated. This provides a micro-foundation for consumers' privacy choices. Some consumers benefit but others suffer from their anonymization.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages57
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2018

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • privacy
  • big data
  • perfect price discrimination
  • level-k thinking


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