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Retail Margins, Price Transmission and Price Asymmetry in Urban Food Markets: The Case of Kinshasa (Zaire)


  • Minten, Bart
  • Kyle, Steven


Some African food markets can still seem to operate inefficiently after price liberalisation. This seems mainly due to the existence of significant transaction costs because of small-scale operations, and is influenced by lack of grading, deficient infrastructure and information systems. It is shown in the case of retail markets in Kinshasa that search, supervision and other difficult-to-measure transactions costs are more important in the margin of food products than the measurable marketing costs (e.g., storage, transport). It is also shown through time series analysis that most of the price transmission between wholesale and retail happens in the same week and that price asymmetry, i.e., the different transmission of price increases compared with price decreases, is present for most products. Products characterised by relatively more standardisation and homogeneity are shown to have lower retail margins and to behave symmetrically. A model based on kinked demand curves and search costs might explain this asymmetric price behaviour. Copyright 2000 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Minten, Bart & Kyle, Steven, 2000. "Retail Margins, Price Transmission and Price Asymmetry in Urban Food Markets: The Case of Kinshasa (Zaire)," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 9(1), pages 1-23, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:9:y:2000:i:1:p:1-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Guinnane, Timothy W., 1999. "The economics of lending with joint liability: theory and practice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 195-228, October.
    2. Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1999. "Cents and Sociability: Household Income and Social Capital in Rural Tanzania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(4), pages 871-897, July.
    3. Jonathan Isham, 2002. "The Effect of Social Capital on Fertiliser Adoption: Evidence from Rural Tanzania," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 11(1), pages 39-60, March.
    4. Wydick, Bruce, 1999. "Can Social Cohesion Be Harnessed to Repair Market Failures? Evidence from Group Lending in Guatemala," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(457), pages 463-475, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Escobal, Javier, 2005. "The Role of Public Infraestructure in Market Development in Rural Peru," MPRA Paper 727, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Winter-Nelson, Alex & Temu, Anna, 2002. "Institutional Adjustment and Transaction Costs: Product and Inputs Markets in the Tanzanian Coffee System," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 561-574, April.
    3. Alam, Mohammad Jahangir & Begum, Ismat Ara & Buysse, Jeroen & McKenzie, Andrew M. & Wailes, Eric J. & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido, 2010. "Testing Asymmetric Price Transmission in the Vertical Supply Chain in De-regulated Rice Markets in Bangladesh," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61374, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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