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Asymmetric Price Effects of Competition

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  • Lach, Saul
  • Moraga-González, José-Luis

Abstract

This paper examines how the distribution of prices changes with the number of competitors in the market. Using gasoline price data from the Netherlands we find that as competition increases, the distribution of prices spreads out: the low prices go down while the high prices go up, on average. As a result, competition has an asymmetric effect on prices. These findings, which are consistent with a theoretical model where consumers differ in the information they have about prices, imply that consumers' gains from competition depend on their shopping behavior. In our data, all consumers, irrespective of the number of prices they observe, benefit from an increase in the number of gas stations. The magnitude of the welfare gain, however, is greater for those consumers that are aware of more prices. We conclude that an increase in the number of gas stations has a positive but unequal effect on the welfare of consumers in the Netherlands.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7319.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7319

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Keywords: gasoline prices; imperfect information; number of firms; price distribution;

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Cited by:
  1. Ulrich Kaiser & Susan J. Mendez & Thomas Rønde, 2010. "Regulation of Pharmaceutical Prices: Evidence from a Reference Price Reform in Denmark," CIE Discussion Papers 2010-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  2. Manfred Nermuth & Giacomo Pasini & Paolo Pin & Simon Weidenholzer, 2009. "Price Dispersion, Search Externalities, and the Digital Divide," Vienna Economics Papers 0916, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  3. Maarten Janssen & Paul Pichler & Simon Weidenholzer, 2009. "Sequential Search with Incompletely Informed Consumers: Theory and Evidence from Retail Gasoline Markets," Vienna Economics Papers 0914, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.

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