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Price Dispersion In The Small And In The Large: Evidence From An Internet Price Comparison Site

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  • Michael R. Baye
  • John Morgan
  • Patrick Scholten

Abstract

This paper examines four million daily price observations for more than 1,000 consumer electronics products on the price comparison site http://Shopper.com . We find little support for the notion that prices on the Internet are converging to the 'law of one price.' In addition, observed levels of price dispersion vary systematically with the number of firms listing prices. The difference between the two lowest prices (the 'gap') averages 23 per cent when two firms list prices, and falls to 3.5 per cent in markets where 17 firms list prices. These empirical results are an implication of a general 'clearinghouse' model of equilibrium price dispersion. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2004.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The Journal of Industrial Economics.

Volume (Year): 52 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 463-496

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:52:y:2004:i:4:p:463-496

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  1. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
  2. Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1979. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 851-58, August.
  3. Spulber, Daniel F, 1995. "Bertrand Competition When Rivals' Costs Are Unknown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-11, March.
  4. Jeffrey R. Brown & Austan Goolsbee, 2002. "Does the Internet Make Markets More Competitive? Evidence from the Life Insurance Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 481-507, June.
  5. Narasimhan, Chakravarthi, 1988. "Competitive Promotional Strategies," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(4), pages 427-49, October.
  6. Smith, Michael D & Brynjolfsson, Erik, 2001. "Consumer Decision-Making at an Internet Shopbot: Brand Still Matters," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 541-58, December.
  7. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-69, July.
  8. Alan T. Sorensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion in Retail Markets for Prescription Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 833-862, August.
  9. Erik Brynjolfsson & Michael D. Smith, 2000. "Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 563-585, April.
  10. Pratt, John W & Wise, David A & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1979. "Price Differences in Almost Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 189-211, May.
  11. Shilony, Yuval, 1977. "Mixed pricing in oligopoly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 373-388, April.
  12. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
  13. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1980. "A Model in Which an Increase in the Number of Sellers Leads to a Higher Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1575-79, September.
  14. Yannis Bakos, 2001. "The Emerging Landscape for Retail E-Commerce," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 69-80, Winter.
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