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Behavioral Biases Meet the Market: The Case of Magazine Subscription Prices

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  • Oster Sharon M.

    ()
    (Yale University)

  • Scott Morton Fiona M.

    ()
    (Yale University)

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    Abstract

    Using data from American magazines, we explore the relationship between newsstand and subscription prices and magazine characteristics. In particular, we distinguish between magazines that provide benefits in the future (investment magazines) versus those that are simply fun to read now (leisure magazines). A consumer with a present bias at the newsstand discounts the future payoff of the investment good but fully values the leisure good. This difference does not exist for subscriptions. Thus, the ratio of the subscription to newsstand willingness to pay for a magazine should differ between investment and leisure goods. We find that for magazines whose payoff is in the future, subscriptions are relatively more costly, ceteris paribus. This finding suggests that publishers reflect the present bias preferences of consumers in their price setting behavior.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

    Volume (Year): 5 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 1-32

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    Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:advances.5:y:2005:i:1:n:1

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    Web: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejeap

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    Cited by:
    1. Young Han Lee & Ulrike Malmendier, 2007. "The Bidder's Curse," NBER Working Papers 13699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Xavier Gabaix & John C. Driscoll & David Laibson & Sumit Agarwal, 2008. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Lifecycle," 2008 Meeting Papers 322, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Drago, Francesco & Kadar, Dora, 2006. "Rebate or Bait? A Model of Regret and Time Inconsistency in Consumer Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 5757, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Michael D. Grubb, 2006. "Selling to Overconfident Consumers," Discussion Papers 06-018, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    5. Meier, Stephan & Sprenger, Charles, 2009. "Present-Biased Preferences and Credit Card Borrowing," IZA Discussion Papers 4198, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Simon, Daniel H. & Kadiyali, Vrinda, 2007. "The effect of a magazine's free digital content on its print circulation: Cannibalization or complementarity?," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 344-361, October.
    7. Shy, Oz, 2008. "Measuring the cost of making payment decisions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2411-2416, December.
    8. Sumit Agarwal & John C Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2008. "Learning in the Credit Card Market," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002028, David K. Levine.
    9. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540, May.
    10. Katherine Milkman & Todd Rogers & Max Bazerman, 2010. "I’ll have the ice cream soon and the vegetables later: A study of online grocery purchases and order lead time," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 17-35, March.
    11. Milkman, Katherine L., 2012. "Unsure what the future will bring? You may overindulge: Uncertainty increases the appeal of wants over shoulds," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 119(2), pages 163-176.
    12. Katherine L. Milkman & Todd Rogers & Max H. Bazerman, 2007. "Highbrow Films Gather Dust: A Study of Dynamic Inconsistency and Online DVD Rentals," Harvard Business School Working Papers 07-099, Harvard Business School, revised Apr 2008.

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