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Consumer Information and Price Discrimination: Does the Internet Affect the Pricing of New Cars to Women and Minorities?

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  • Fiona Scott Morton
  • Florian Zettelmeyer
  • Jorge Silva-Risso
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    Abstract

    Mediating transactions through the Internet removes important cues that salespeople can use to assess a consumer's willingness to pay. We analyze whether dealers' difficulty in identifying consumer characteristics on the Internet and consumers' ease in finding information affects equilibrium prices in car retailing. Using a large dataset of transaction prices for new automobiles, the first part of the paper an- alyzes the relationship between car prices and demographics. We find that offline African-American and Hispanic consumers pay approximately 2% more than other consumers, however, we can explain 65% of this price premium with differences in income, education,a nd search costs; we find no evidence of statistical race discrimination. The second part of the paper turns to the role of the Internet. Online minority buyers who use the Internet Referral Service we study, Autobytel.com, pay nearly the same prices as do whites, irrespective of their income, education, and search costs. Since members of minority groups who use the Internet may not be representative, we control for selection. We conclude that the Internet is disproportionately beneficial to those who have personal characteristics that put them at a disadvantage in negotiating. African-American and Hispanic individuals, who are least likely to use the Internet, are the ones who benefit the most from it.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8668.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8668.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2001
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    Publication status: published as Scott Morton, Fiona, Florian Zettelmeyer, and Jorge Silva-Risso. “Consumer Information and Discrimination: Does the Internet Affect the Pricing of New Cars to Woman and Minorities?” Quantitative Marketing and Economics 1, 1 (2003): 65-92.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8668

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    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Fiona Scott Morton & Florian Zettelmeyer & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," NBER Chapters, in: E-commerce, pages 501-519 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. Salop, Steven & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510, October.
    4. Morton, Fiona Scott & Zettelmeyer, Florian & Silva-Risso, Jorge, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 501-19, December.
    5. Hausman, Jerry A., 1983. "Specification and estimation of simultaneous equation models," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 391-448 Elsevier.
    6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    7. Florian Zettelmeyer & Fiona Scott Morton & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Cowboys or Cowards: Why are Internet Car Prices Lower?," NBER Working Papers 8667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Admati, Anat R & Perry, Motty, 1987. "Strategic Delay in Bargaining," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 345-64, July.
    9. 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.
    10. Florian Zettelmeyer & Fiona M. Scott Morton & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Cowboys or Cowards: Why are Internet Car Prices Lower?," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm241, Yale School of Management.
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    Cited by:
    1. Hiroshi Ono & Madeline Zavodny, 2002. "Race, Internet usage, and E-commerce," Working Paper 2002-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    2. Tamar Kugler & Zvika Neeman & Nir Vulkan, 2003. "Markets Versus Negotiations: An Experimental Investigation," Discussion Paper Series dp319, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    3. Barbara L. Wolfe & Robert H. Haveman, 2002. "Social and nonmarket benefits from education in an advanced economy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 97-142.

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