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The Causes and Consequences of Wal-Mart's Growth

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  • Emek Basker

Abstract

Wal-Mart is the largest retailer and the largest private employer in the United States. The competitive pressures created by large retailers have long been controversial, and Wal-Mart's growth has raised concerns about its economic impact on workers, communities, and competitors. This paper aims to dispel some of the myths regarding Wal-Mart and to replace them with a systematic accounting of what is known about Wal-Mart's impact on the U.S. and global economy. The paper begins by exploring the source of Wal-Mart's competitive advantage. It then examines some of the economic effects of Wal-Mart: how Wal-Mart stores affect local labor markets, consumer prices, product selection, local and global competitors, and suppliers. I then turn to Wal-Mart's interaction with public policy issues in matters of global trade as well as state and local legislation on wages, benefits, zoning, and subsidies.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.21.3.177
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 21 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 177-198

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:21:y:2007:i:3:p:177-198

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.3.177
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References

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  1. Zhiqi Chen, 2001. "Dominant Retailers and the Countervailing Power Hypothesis," Carleton Economic Papers 01-05, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 2003.
  2. Beata Javorcik & Wolfgang Keller & James Tybout, 2008. "Openness and Industrial Response in a Wal-Mart World: A Case Study of Mexican Soaps, Detergents and Surfactant Producers," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(12), pages 1558-1580, December.
  3. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2009. "CPI Bias from Supercenters: Does the BLS Know that Wal-Mart Exists?," NBER Chapters, in: Price Index Concepts and Measurement, pages 203-231 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Mark Doms & Ron Jarmin & Shawn Klimek, 2004. "Information technology investment and firm performance in US retail trade," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(7), pages 595-613.
  6. Noel, Michael & Basker, Emek, 2007. "The Evolving Food Chain: Competitive Effects of Wal-Mart's Entry Into The Supermarket Industry," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt4nq8d4sm, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  7. Elizabeth Davis & Matthew Freedman & Julia Lane & Brian McCall & Nicole Nestoriak & Timothy Park, . "Product Market Competition and Human Resource Practices: An Analysis of the Retail Food Sector," Working Papers 0905, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
  8. Marianne Bertrand & Francis Kramarz, 2001. "Does Entry Regulation Hinder Job Creation? Evidence from the French Retail Industry," NBER Working Papers 8211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Thomas W. Ross, 1983. "Winners and Losers under the Robinson-Patman Act," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 30, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  10. Jerry Hausman & Ephraim Leibtag, 2007. "Consumer benefits from increased competition in shopping outlets: Measuring the effect of Wal-Mart," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(7), pages 1157-1177.
  11. Thomas J. Holmes, 2006. "The Diffusion of Wal-Mart and Economies of Density," 2006 Meeting Papers 15, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  13. Ting Zhu & Vishal Singh & Anthony J. Dukes, 2005. "Local Competition and Impact of Entry by a Dominant Retailer," CIE Discussion Papers 2005-05, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  14. Eric D. Gould & B. Peter Pashigian & Canice J. Prendergast, 2005. "Contracts, Externalities, and Incentives in Shopping Malls," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 411-422, August.
  15. Ronald S. Jarmin & Shawn D. Klimek & Javier Miranda, 2009. "The Role of Retail Chains: National, Regional and Industry Results," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 237-262 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Pashigian, B Peter & Gould, Eric D, 1998. "Internalizing Externalities: The Pricing of Space in Shopping Malls," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 115-42, April.
  17. Emek Basker & Van Pham Hoang, 2011. "Wal-Mart as Catalyst to U.S.-China Trade," Working Papers 01, Development and Policies Research Center (DEPOCEN), Vietnam.
  18. Thomas J. Holmes, 1999. "Bar codes lead to frequent deliveries and superstores," Staff Report 261, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  19. Panle Jia, 2008. "What Happens When Wal-Mart Comes to Town: An Empirical Analysis of the Discount Retailing Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1263-1316, November.
  20. Chris Forman & Anindya Ghose & Avi Goldfarb, 2006. "Geography and Electronic Commerce: Measuring Convenience, Selection, and Price," Working Papers 06-15, NET Institute, revised Sep 2006.
  21. Javier Miranda & Shawn Klimek & Ron Jarmin, 2004. "Firm Entry and Exit in the U.S. Retail Sector, 1977-1997," Working Papers 04-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  22. Michael J. Hicks, 2005. "The Impact of Wal-Mart on Local Fiscal Health: Evidence from a Panel of Ohio Counties," Public Economics 0511016, EconWPA.
  23. Emek Basker, 2007. "When Good Instruments Go Bad," Working Papers 0706, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  24. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
  25. Viviano, Eliana, 2008. "Entry regulations and labour market outcomes: Evidence from the Italian retail trade sector," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1200-1222, December.
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