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Maximum likelihood estimation of search costs

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  • Moraga-González, José Luis
  • Wildenbeest, Matthijs R.

Abstract

In a recent paper Hong and Shum [2006. Using price distributions to estimate search costs. Rand Journal of Economics 37, 257-275] present a structural method to estimate search cost distributions. We extend their approach to the case of oligopoly and present a new maximum likelihood method to estimate search costs. We apply our method to a data set of online prices for different computer memory chips. The estimates suggest that the consumer population can be roughly split into two groups which either have quite high or quite low search costs. Search frictions confer a significant amount of market power to the firms: Despite more than 20 firms operating in each of the markets, we estimate price-cost margins to be around 25%. The paper also illustrates how the structural method can be employed to simulate the effects of the introduction of a sales tax.

Suggested Citation

  • Moraga-González, José Luis & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2008. "Maximum likelihood estimation of search costs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(5), pages 820-848, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:5:p:820-848
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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy J. Richards & Stephen F. Hamilton & Koichi Yonezawa, 2017. "Variety and the Cost of Search in Supermarket Retailing," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 50(3), pages 263-285, May.
    2. Elisabeth Honka, 2014. "Quantifying search and switching costs in the US auto insurance industry," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(4), pages 847-884, December.
    3. Ali Hortaçsu & Seyed Ali Madanizadeh & Steven L. Puller, 2015. "Power to Choose? An Analysis of Consumer Inertia in the Residential Electricity Market," NBER Working Papers 20988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:taf:applec:v:49:y:2017:i:57:p:5740-5752 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Kenneth Burdett & Guido Menzio, 2013. "(Q,S,s) Pricing Rules," NBER Working Papers 19094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Janssen, Maarten C.W. & Non, Marielle C., 2008. "Advertising and consumer search in a duopoly model," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 354-371, January.
    7. Moraga-González, José Luis & Sándor, Zsolt & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2017. "Nonsequential search equilibrium with search cost heterogeneity," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 392-414.
    8. Richards, Timothy J. & Gómez, Miguel I. & Printezis, Iryna, 2014. "Hysteresis, Price Acceptance, and Reference Prices," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 164872, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Monica Giulietti & Jesus Otero & Michael Waterson, 2010. "Pricing behaviour under competition in the UK electricity supply industry," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(3), pages 478-503, July.
    10. Backus, Matthew R. & Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2014. "Search costs and equilibrium price dispersion in auction markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 173-192.
    11. repec:wly:japmet:v:32:y:2017:i:1:p:80-102 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Wilson, Chris M., 2012. "Market frictions: A unified model of search costs and switching costs," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1070-1086.
    13. Jason R. Blevins & Garrett T. Senney, 2014. "Dynamic Selection and Distributional Bounds on Search Costs in Dynamic Unit-Demand Models," Working Papers 14-02, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
    14. Rauh, Michael T., 2009. "Strategic complementarities and search market equilibrium," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 959-978, July.
    15. Yonghong An & Michael R. Baye & Yingyao Hu & John Morgan & Matt Shum, 2017. "Identification and Estimation of Online Price Competition With an Unknown Number of Firms," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(1), pages 80-102, January.
    16. Hakan Yilmazkuday, 2017. "Geographical dispersion of consumer search behaviour," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(57), pages 5740-5752, December.
    17. Greg Kaplan & Guido Menzio, 2015. "The Morphology Of Price Dispersion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 56, pages 1165-1206, November.
    18. Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez & Zsolt Sandor & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, "undated". "Do higher search costs make the markets less competitive?," Working Papers 2013-08, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    19. Richards, Timothy J. & Hamilton, Stephen F. & Allender, William, 2016. "Search and price dispersion in online grocery markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 255-281.
    20. Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2011. "An empirical model of search with vertically differentiated products," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(4), pages 729-757, December.
    21. Wilson, Chris M, 2009. "Market Frictions: A Unified Model of Search and Switching Costs," MPRA Paper 13672, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Maarten Janssen & Paul Pichler & Simon Weidenholzer, 2009. "Sequential Search with Incompletely Informed Consumers: Theory and Evidence from Retail Gasoline Markets," Vienna Economics Papers 0914, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    23. Sergei Koulayev, 2008. "Estimating search with learning," Working Papers 08-29, NET Institute, revised Oct 2008.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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