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Consumer Search and Oligopolistic Pricing: An Empirical Investigation

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Author Info

  • Maarten C. W. Janssen
  • José Luis Moraga-González
  • Matthijs R. Wildenbeest

Abstract

This paper presents an empirical examination of oligopoly pricing and consumer search. The theoretical model allows for sequential and non-sequential search and, using the theoretical restrictions firm and consumer behavior impose on the data, we study the empirical validity of the models. Two equilibria arise: one with costless search and the other with costly search. We find that the costless search equilibrium works well for products with a relatively low value, and, by implication, a small number of sellers. By contrast, the costly search equilibrium explains the observed data in a manner that is consistent with the underlying theoretical model for almost all products (for 86 out of 87!).

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2004/wp-cesifo-2004-10/cesifo1_wp1292.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1292.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1292

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Keywords: consumer search; oligopoly; price dispersion; maximum likelihood estimation;

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References

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  1. Stahl, Dale O., 1996. "Oligopolistic pricing with heterogeneous consumer search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 243-268.
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  12. Maarten C. W. Janssen & José Luis Moraga Gonzales & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2004. "A Note on Costly Sequential Search and Oligopoly Pricing (new title: Truly Costly Sequential Search and Oligopolistic Pricing,)," CESifo Working Paper Series 1332, CESifo Group Munich.
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  18. repec:dgr:uvatin:2004068 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Donald, Stephen G & Paarsch, Harry J, 1993. "Piecewise Pseudo-maximum Likelihood Estimation in Empirical Models of Auctions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(1), pages 121-48, February.
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  22. Donald, S.G. & Paarsch, H.J., 1992. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation in Empirical Models of Auctions," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9211, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  23. Villas-Boas, J Miguel, 1995. "Models of Competitive Price Promotions: Some Empirical Evidence from the Coffee and Saltine Crackers Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 85-107, Spring.
  24. Alan T. Sorensen, 2001. "An Empirical Model of Heterogeneous Consumer Search for Retail Prescription Drugs," NBER Working Papers 8548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  26. Morgan, John & Orzen, Henrik & Sefton, Martin, 2006. "An experimental study of price dispersion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 134-158, January.
  27. David, Douglas D & Holt, Charles A, 1996. "Consumer Search Costs and Market Performance," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 133-51, January.
  28. 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.
  29. Maarten C.W. Janssen & Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2004. "A Note on Costly Sequential Search and Oligopoly Pricing," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-068/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  30. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Wage and Technology Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 585-607, October.
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