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The Limits of Price Discrimination

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Listed:
  • Dirk Bergemann
  • Benjamin Brooks
  • Stephen Morris

Abstract

We analyze the welfare consequences of a monopolist having additional information about consumers' tastes, beyond the prior distribution; the additional information can be used to charge different prices to different segments of the market, i.e., carry out "third degree price discrimination." We show that the segmentation and pricing induced by the additional information can achieve every combination of consumer and producer surplus such that: (i) consumer surplus is nonnegative, (ii) producer surplus is at least as high as profits under the uniform monopoly price, and (iii) total surplus does not exceed the surplus generated by efficient trade. (JEL D42, D83, L12)

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Bergemann & Benjamin Brooks & Stephen Morris, 2015. "The Limits of Price Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 921-957, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:3:p:921-57
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20130848
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2013. "Robust Predictions in Games With Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(4), pages 1251-1308, July.
    2. Dirk Bergemann & Benjamin Brooks & Stephen Morris, 2015. "The Limits of Price Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 921-957, March.
    3. Iñaki Aguirre & Simon Cowan & John Vickers, 2010. "Monopoly Price Discrimination and Demand Curvature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1601-1615, September.
    4. Nahata, Babu & Ostaszewski, Krzysztof & Sahoo, P K, 1990. "Direction of Price Changes in Third-Degree Price Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1254-1258, December.
    5. Emir Kamenica & Matthew Gentzkow, 2011. "Bayesian Persuasion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2590-2615, October.
    6. Curtis R. Taylor, 2004. "Consumer Privacy and the Market for Customer Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(4), pages 631-650, Winter.
    7. Robert J. Aumann, 1995. "Repeated Games with Incomplete Information," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011476, August.
    8. Simon Cowan, 2012. "Third-Degree Price Discrimination and Consumer Surplus," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 333-345, June.
    9. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2013. "Robust Predictions in Games With Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(4), pages 1251-1308, July.
    10. Varian, Hal R, 1985. "Price Discrimination and Social Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 870-875, September.
    11. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    12. John Riley & Richard Zeckhauser, 1983. "Optimal Selling Strategies: When to Haggle, When to Hold Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(2), pages 267-289.
    13. Simon Cowan, 2016. "Welfare-increasing third-degree price discrimination," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(2), pages 326-340, May.
    14. Dirk Bergemann & Benjamin Brooks & Stephen Morris, 2013. "Extremal Information Structures in the First Price Auction," Working Papers 055-2013, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Econometric Research Program..
    15. repec:cwl:cwldpp:1821rrr is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2013. "Robust Predictions in Games With Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(4), pages 1251-1308, July.
    17. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 1984. "Monopoly with Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 171-196, Summer.
    18. Schmalensee, Richard, 1981. "Output and Welfare Implications of Monopolistic Third-Degree Price Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 242-247, March.
    19. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2013. "Robust Predictions in Games With Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(4), pages 1251-1308, July.
    20. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies

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