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Prices, Spatial Competition, and Heterogenous Producers: An Empirical Test

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  • Chad Syverson

Abstract

In markets where spatial competition is important, many models predict that average prices are lower in denser markets (i.e., those with more producers per unit area). Homogeneous-producer models attribute this effect solely to lower optimal markups. However, when producers instead differ in their production costs, a second mechanism also acts to lower equilibrium prices: competition-driven selection on costs. Consumers%u2019 greater substitution possibilities in denser markets make it more difficult for high-cost firms to profitably operate, truncating the equilibrium cost (and price) distributions from above. This selection process can be empirically distinguished from the homogenous-producer case because it implies that not only do average prices fall as density rises, but that upper-bound prices and price dispersion should also decline as well. I find empirical support for this process using a rich set of price data from U.S. readymixed concrete plants. Features of the industry offer an arguably exogenous source of producer density variation with which to identify these effects. I also show that the findings do not simply result from lower factor prices in dense markets, but rather because dense-market producers have low costs because they are more efficient.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12231.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Publication status: published as Syverson, Chad. “Prices, Spatial Competition, and Heterogeneous Producers: An Empirical Test.” Journal of Industrial Economics 55, 2 (June 2007): 197-222.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12231

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  1. Chad Syverson, 2003. "Product Substitutability and Productivity Dispersion," NBER Working Papers 10049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," NBER Working Papers 10501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 2002. "The Link Between Aggregate and Micro Productivity Growth: Evidence from Retail Trade," NBER Working Papers 9120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," NBER Working Papers 11555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Ali Hortacsu & Chad Syverson, 2007. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," NBER Working Papers 12894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Toshihiro Okubo & Pierre M. Picard & Jacques-François Thisse, 2008. "The spatial selection of heterogeneous firms," CREA Discussion Paper Series 08-16, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
  3. Foster, Lucia & Haltiwanger, John C. & Syverson, Chad, 2005. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," IZA Discussion Papers 1705, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Anders Akerman & Rikard Forslid, 2009. "Firm Heterogeneity and Country Size Dependent Market Entry Costs," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd09-056, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  5. Masayuki Morikawa, 2011. "Economies of Density and Productivity in Service Industries: An Analysis of Personal Service Industries Based on Establishment-Level Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 179-192, February.
  6. Alex Coad, 2009. "On the distribution of product price and quality," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 589-604, August.

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