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Retail Redlining: Are gasoline prices higher in poor and minority neighborhoods?

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  • Caitlin Knowles Myers

    ()

  • Grace Close
  • Laurice Fox
  • John William Meyer
  • Madeline Niemi

Abstract

Higher retail prices are frequently cited as a cost of living in poor, minority neighborhoods. However, the empirical evidence, which primarilycomes from the grocery gap literature on food prices, has been mixed. This study uses new data on retail gasoline prices in three major U.S.cities to provide evidence on the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and consumer prices. We find that gasoline prices do not varygreatly with neighborhood racial composition, but that prices are higher in poor neighborhoods. For a 10 percentage point increase in the percentof families with incomes below the poverty line relative to families with incomes between 1 and 2 times the poverty line, retail gasoline prices are estimated to increase by an average of 0.70 percent. This differential is reduced to 0.22 percent once we add controls for costs, competition, and demand. Finally, we provide evidence that the remaining, small, price differential for poor neighborhoods is likely the result of traditional price discrimination in response to less competition and/or more inelastic demand in these locations.

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File URL: http://www.middlebury.edu/services/econ/repec/mdl/ancoec/0906.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 0906.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0906

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  1. Jan Ondrich & Stephen Ross & John Yinger, 2003. "Now You See It, Now You Don't: Why Do Real Estate Agents Withhold Available Houses from Black Customers?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 854-873, November.
  2. Chouinard, Hayley & Perloff, Jeffrey M., 2003. "Incidence of Federal and State Gasoline Taxes," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5q74052d, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  3. Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2004. "Discrimination and neighborhood effects: understanding racial differentials in US housing prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 279-302, September.
  4. Lashawn Hayes, 2000. "Do the poor pay more? An Empirical Investigation of Price Dispersion in Food Retailing," Working Papers 974, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  5. John A. List, 2004. "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 49-89, February.
  6. Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-21, June.
  7. Lashawn Richburg Hayes, 2000. "Do the Poor Pay More? An Empirical Investigation of Price Dispersion in Food Retailing," Working Papers 825, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. repec:fth:prinin:446 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Kaufman, Phillip R. & MacDonald, James M. & Lutz, Steve M. & Smallwood, David M., 1997. "Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs," Agricultural Economics Reports 34065, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  10. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1996. "Dealer Price Discrimination in New Car Purchases: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 622-54, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Yelowitz, Aaron & Scott, Frank & Beck, Jason, 2011. "The market for real estate brokerage services in low- and high-income neighborhoods: A 6 city study," MPRA Paper 35608, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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