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Unobserved Product Differentiation in Discrete Choice Models: Estimating Price Elasticities and Welfare Effects

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  • Daniel A. Ackerberg
  • Marc Rysman

Abstract

Standard discrete choice models such as logit, nested logit, and random coefficients models place very strong restrictions on how unobservable product space increases with the number of products. We argue (and show with Monte Carlo experiments) that these restrictions can lead to biased conclusions regarding price elasticities and welfare consequences from additional products. In addition, these restrictions can identify parameters which are not intuitively identified given the data at hand. We suggest two alternative models that relax these restrictions, both motivated by structural interpretations. Monte-Carlo experiments and an application to data show that these alternative models perform well in practice.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8798.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Publication status: published as Daniel A. Ackerberg & Marc Rysman, 2005. "Unobserved Product Differentiation in Discrete-Choice Models: Estimating Price Elasticities and Welfare Effects," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 771-788, Winter.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8798

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  1. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  2. Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 1999. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency in Radio Broadcasting," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(3), pages 397-420, Autumn.
  3. Nevo, Aviv, 1998. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-To-Eat Cereal Industry," Research Reports 25164, University of Connecticut, Food Marketing Policy Center.
  4. Cardell, N. Scott, 1997. "Variance Components Structures for the Extreme-Value and Logistic Distributions with Application to Models of Heterogeneity," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(02), pages 185-213, April.
  5. Benkard, C. Lanier & Bajari, Patrick, 2001. "Demand Estimation with Heterogeneous Consumers and Unobserved Product Characteristics: A Hedonic Approach," Research Papers 1691, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  6. Marc Rysman, 2004. "Competition Between Networks: A�Study of the Market for Yellow�Pages," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 483-512, 04.
  7. Patrick Bajari & C. Lanier Benkard, 2001. "Demand Estimation With Heterogeneous Consumers and Unobserved Product Characteristics: A Hedonic Approach," NBER Technical Working Papers 0272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Patrick Bajari & C. Lanier Benkard, 2001. "Demand Estimation With Heterogeneous Consumers and Unobserved Product Characteristics: A Hedonic Approach," Working Papers 01010, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  9. Feenstra, Robert C & Levinsohn, James A, 1995. "Estimating Markups and Market Conduct with Multidimensional Product Attributes," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 19-52, January.
  10. Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
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