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The Stability of Price Dispersion under Seller and Consumer Learning

  • Ed Hopkins

    (University of Edinburgh)

  • Robert M. Seymour

    (University College, London)

In many markets, it is possible to find rival sellers charging different prices for the same good. Earlier research has attempted to explain this phenomenon by demonstrating the existence of dispersed price equilibria when consumers must make use of costly search to discover prices. We ask whether such equilibria can be learned when sellers adjust prices adaptively in response to current market conditions. With consumer behavior fixed, convergence to a dispersed price equilibrium is possible in some cases. However, once consumer learning is introduced, the monopoly outcome first found by Diamond ("Journal of Economic Theory"3 (1971), 156-68) is the only stable equilibrium. Copyright 2002 by the Economics Department of the University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 43 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1157-1190

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Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:43:y:2002:i:4:p:1157-1190
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  1. Hopkins, Ed, 1999. "A Note on Best Response Dynamics," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 138-150, October.
  2. Joerg Oechssler & Frank Riedel, 1998. "Evolutionary Dynamics on Infinite Strategy Spaces," Game Theory and Information 9805002, EconWPA, revised 12 May 1998.
  3. Ed Hopkins, 1995. "Learning, Matching and Aggregation," Game Theory and Information 9512001, EconWPA.
  4. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  5. Timothy N. Cason & Daniel Friedman, 2000. "Buyer Search and Price Dispersion: A Laboratory Study," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1549, Econometric Society.
  6. Erev, Ido & Roth, Alvin E, 1998. "Predicting How People Play Games: Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Games with Unique, Mixed Strategy Equilibria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 848-81, September.
  7. Tilman B�rgers & Rajiv Sarin, . "Learning Through Reinforcement and Replicator Dynamics," ELSE working papers 051, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  8. Benabou Roland, 1993. "Search Market Equilibrium, Bilateral Heterogeneity, and Repeat Purchases," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 140-158, June.
  9. Wilde, Louis L, 1992. "Comparison Shopping as a Simultaneous Move Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(412), pages 562-69, May.
  10. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  11. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
  12. Rothschild, Michael, 1973. "Models of Market Organization with Imperfect Information: A Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(6), pages 1283-1308, Nov.-Dec..
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