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Perfect Price Discrimination is not So Perfect

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  • Sara Hsu
  • David Kiefer

Abstract

The foundation of the accepted theory on two-part tariffs is the partial equilibrium analysis first developed by Oi (1971). He argues that the profit maximum obtains from a lump-sum payment (equal to the consumer surplus) plus a unit price (equal to marginal cost), and that the resulting allocation is Pareto efficient because it is identical to perfect competition (except for lump-sum transfers to the monopoly). He shows that this outcome is identical to first-degree price discrimination. This analysis is widely included in undergraduate and graduate level textbooks, and is often cited as a basis for the public regulation of utilities. A few general equilibrium papers also validate Oi’s partial equilibrium conclusion. By contrast, we present a general equilibrium counterexample that shows that this conventional conclusion cannot be generally correct.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Utah, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah with number 2005_04.

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Length: 14 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uta:papers:2005_04

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Keywords: Oi; partial equalibrium analysis; price discrimination;

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  1. Ng, Yew-Kwang & Weisser, Mendel, 1974. "Optimal Pricing with a Budget Constraint-The Case of the Two-part Tariff," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(3), pages 337-45, July.
  2. Brown, Donald J. & Heal, Geoffrey, 1980. "Two-part tariffs, marginal cost pricing and increasing returns in a general equilibrium model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 25-49, February.
  3. Schmalensee, Richard., 1980. "Monopolistic two-part pricing arrangements," Working papers 1105-80., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  4. Sherrill Shaffer, 1991. "Efficient two-part tariffs with uncertainty and interdependent demand," Working Papers 91-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  5. Braeutigam, Ronald R., 1989. "Optimal policies for natural monopolies," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 23, pages 1289-1346 Elsevier.
  6. Oi, Walter Y, 1971. "A Disneyland Dilemma: Two-Part Tariffs for a Mickey Mouse Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 77-96, February.
  7. Braverman, Avishay & Guasch, J Luis & Salop, Steven, 1983. "Defects in Disneyland: Quality Control as a Two-Part Tariff," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 121-31, January.
  8. Shaffer, Sherrill, 1987. "Two-Part Tariffs in a Contestable Natural Monopoly," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(215), pages 315-16, August.
  9. Robert D. Willig, 1978. "Pareto-Superior Nonlinear Outlay Schedules," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(1), pages 56-69, Spring.
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