In the 21st Century, there is an increasing consumer awareness of the externalities of manufacturing and along with it a stronger consumer preference to buying used goods rather than new.

My question is: would this shift in consumer preference have a significant impact on quantity produced for high-cost goods such as cars?

My naive instinct says, "of course, buying used means that one fewer car goes to the junkyard leading to a decrease in the demand for new cars." However, for goods as expensive as cars, it stands to reason that as long as it still works, even a junkyard would resell it instead of scrapping it. This would imply that a shift in consumer preference toward the secondhand market would actually have close to zero effect on the new goods market. Thinking further in the automotive case, consumers of used cars (I assume) are more likely to buy out of necessity, as opposed to new cars which would be luxury goods to a larger portion of consumers. This would also go against my initial answer because it would mean there has always been a strong market for secondhand vehicles and that working cars are rarely be scrapped.

In researching this, I did find this paper and this one that seem relevant. However, the first one goes over my head a little bit (and may be outdated). While I do not have access to the second through my institution, it also seems to go far beyond my limited knowledge.

I think it would potentially be useful to consider the case of a fixed-length lifetime separately from the case where a good's lifetime can be extended via maintenance and repairs.



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