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Ski-Lift Pricing, with an Application to the Labor Market


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  • Robert J. Barro
  • Paul M. Romer


The market for ski runs or amusement rides often features lump-sum admission tickets with no explicit price per ride. Therefore, the equation of the demand for rides to the supply involves queues, which are systematically longer during peak periods, such as weekends. Moreover, the prices of admission tickets are much less responsive than the length of queues to variations in demand, even when these variations are predictable. We show that this method of pricing generates nearly efficient outcomes under plausible conditions. In particular, the existence of queues and the "stickiness" of prices do not necessarily mean that rides are allocated improperly or that firms choose inefficient levels of investment. We then draw an analogy between "ski-lift pricing" and the use of profit-sharing schemes in the labor market. Although firms face explicit marginal costs of labor that are sticky and less than workers' reservation wages, and although the pool of profits seems to create a common-property problem for workers, this method of pricing can approximate the competitive outcomes for employment and total labor compensation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1985.

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Date of creation: Jul 1986
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "Ski-Lift Pricing, with Applications to Labor and Other Markets." From The American Economic Review, Vol. 77, No. 5, pp. 875-890, (December 1987).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1985

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  1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1984. "The Simple Macroeconomics of Profit Sharing," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics 357, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
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Cited by:
  1. James G. Mulligan & Nilotpal Das, 2005. "Persistent Adoption of Time-Saving Process Innovations," Working Papers, University of Delaware, Department of Economics 05-03, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.


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