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Buyer Alliances as Countervailing Power in WIC Infant-Formula Auctions

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  • Davis, David E.

Abstract

State WIC agencies in infant-formula procurement auctions receive lower bids and final prices when they are in buyer’s alliances than when they are unallied. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) uses an auction to procure infant formula. Manufacturers bid on the right to be an agency’s sole supplier by offering a rebate on formula sold through WIC. A theoretical model of rebates shows that bidders may shade their bids and extract surplus from agencies. An empirical estimation shows that bids are lower to alliances suggesting that alliances countervail the power of bidders to extract surplus.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington with number 123863.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:123863

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Keywords: auctions; food assistance; countervailing power; buyer concentration; oligopoly; WIC.; Consumer/Household Economics; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Industrial Organization; L13; D43; D44; Q18; I18;

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  1. David E. Davis, 2012. "Bidding for WIC Infant Formula Contracts: Do Non-WIC Customers Subsidize WIC Customers?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 94(1), pages 80-96.
  2. Henrick Horn & Asher Wolinsky, 1988. "Bilateral Monopolies and Incentives for Merger," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(3), pages 408-419, Autumn.
  3. Suchan Chae & Paul Heidhues, 2004. "Buyers' Alliances for Bargaining Power," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(4), pages 731-754, December.
  4. John Crespi & Richard Sexton, 2005. "A Multinomial Logit Framework to Estimate Bid Shading in Procurement Auctions: Application to Cattle Sales in the Texas Panhandle," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 253-278, November.
  5. Snyder, Christopher M., 1998. "Why do larger buyers pay lower prices? Intense supplier competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 205-209, February.
  6. Oliveira, Victor & Frazao, Elizabeth & Smallwood, David M., 2011. "The Infant Formula Market: Consequences of a Change in the WIC Contract Brand," Economic Research Report 118020, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  7. Oliveira, Victor & Frazao, Elizabeth & Smallwood, David M., 2010. "Rising Infant Formula Costs to the WIC Program: Recent Trends in Rebates and Wholesale Prices," Economic Research Report 59384, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  8. Leonardo Rezende, 2008. "Econometrics of auctions by least squares," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(7), pages 925-948.
  9. Chipty, Tasneem, 1995. "Horizontal Integration for Bargaining Power: Evidence from the Cable Television Industry," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(2), pages 375-97, Summer.
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