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Uncertain Demand, Consumer Loss Aversion, and Flat-Rate Tariffs

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  • Fabian Herweg

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Abstract

The so called flat-rate bias is a well documented phenomenon caused by consumers' desire to be insured against fluctuations in their billing amounts. This paper shows that expectation-based loss aversion provides a formal explanation for this bias. We solve for the optimal two-part tariff when contracting with loss-averse consumers who are uncertain about their demand. The optimal tariff is a flat rate if marginal cost of production is low compared to a consumer's degree of loss aversion and if there is enough variation in the consumer's demand. Moreover, if consumers differ with respect to the degree of loss aversion, firms' optimal menu of tariffs typically comprises a flat-rate contract.

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File URL: http://www.wiwi.uni-bonn.de/bgsepapers/bonedp/bgse14_2010.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Bonn, Germany in its series Bonn Econ Discussion Papers with number bgse14_2010.

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Length: 38
Date of creation: Jul 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bon:bonedp:bgse14_2010

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Postal: Bonn Graduate School of Economics, University of Bonn, Adenauerallee 24 - 26, 53113 Bonn, Germany
Fax: +49 228 73 6884
Web page: http://www.bgse.uni-bonn.de

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Keywords: Consumer Loss Aversion; Flat-Rate Tariffs; Nonlinear Pricing; Uncertain Demand;

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References

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  1. Armstrong, Mark & Vickers, John, 2001. "Competitive Price Discrimination," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(4), pages 579-605, Winter.
  2. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000341, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Milgrom,Paul, 2004. "Putting Auction Theory to Work," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521536721, April.
  4. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Stole, Lars A, 2002. "Nonlinear Pricing with Random Participation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 277-311, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Herweg, Fabian, 2013. "The expectation-based loss-averse newsvendor," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 429-432.
  2. Kohei Daido & Takeshi Murooka, 2013. "Loss Aversion, Stochastic Compensation, and Team Incentives," Discussion Paper Series 107, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, revised Jul 2013.
  3. Kohei Daido & Takeshi Murooka, 2011. "Team Incentives and Reference-Dependent Preferences," Discussion Paper Series 70, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, revised May 2011.
  4. Michael D. Grubb & Matthew Osborne, 2012. "Cellular Service Demand: Biased Beliefs, Learning, and Bill Shock," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 829, Boston College Department of Economics.
  5. Daido, Kohei & Morita, Kimiyuki & Murooka, Takeshi & Ogawa, Hiromasa, 2013. "Task assignment under agent loss aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(1), pages 35-38.
  6. Juan Carlos Carbajal & Jeffrey C. Ely, 2012. "Optimal Contracts for Loss Averse Consumers," Discussion Papers Series 460, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.

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