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Bargaining, Search Costs and Equilibrium Price Distributions


  • Helmut Bester


This paper studies a bargaining model of equilibrium price distributions. Consumers choose a seller at random and face search costs to switching to another store. In the market equilibrium, the prices at all stores are determined simultaneously as the perfect equilibrium of a bargaining game. In this game, the buyer has the outside option to search for another seller. Differences between the sellers' types create price dispersions; typically the number of active sellers increases with higher search costs. The market equilibrium converges to the competitive equilibrium under perfect information when search costs become small.

Suggested Citation

  • Helmut Bester, 1988. "Bargaining, Search Costs and Equilibrium Price Distributions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(2), pages 201-214.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:55:y:1988:i:2:p:201-214.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hugo Sonnenschein, 1968. "The Dual of Duopoly Is Complementary Monopoly: or, Two of Cournot's Theories Are One," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 316-316.
    2. Jeremy I. Bulow & John Geanakoplos & Paul D. Klemperer, 1983. "Multimarket Oligopoly," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 674, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    3. Sanyal, Kalyan K & Jones, Ronald W, 1982. "The Theory of Trade in Middle Products," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16-31, March.
    4. McCulloch, Rachel & Johnson, Harry G, 1973. "A Note on Proportionally Distributed Quotas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(4), pages 726-732, September.
    5. Gene M. Grossman, 1981. "The Theory of Domestic Content Protection and Content Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 96(4), pages 583-603.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ed Hopkins, "undated". "Price Dispersion: An Evolutionary Approach," Discussion Papers 1996-3, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    2. Bester, H., 1991. "Bargaining vs. price competition in a market with quality uncertainty," Discussion Paper 1991-13, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Cerqueiro, Geraldo & Degryse, Hans & Ongena, Steven, 2011. "Rules versus discretion in loan rate setting," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 503-529, October.
    4. Selçuk Özyurt, 2015. "Searching for a Bargain: Power of Strategic Commitment," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 320-353, February.
    5. Raskovich, Alexander, 2007. "Ordered bargaining," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 1126-1143, October.
    6. Vesala, Timo, 2004. "Asymmetric information in credit markets and entrepreneurial risk taking," Research Discussion Papers 14/2004, Bank of Finland.
    7. Bester, Helmut, 1995. "A bargaining model of financial intermediation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 211-228, February.
    8. Yuxin Chen & Sha Yang & Ying Zhao, 2008. "A Simultaneous Model of Consumer Brand Choice and Negotiated Price," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(3), pages 538-549, March.
    9. Gantner, Anita, 2008. "Bargaining, search, and outside options," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 417-435, March.
    10. Chatterjee, Kalyan & Lee, Ching Chyi, 1998. "Bargaining and Search with Incomplete Information about Outside Options," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 203-237, February.
    11. Alexander Raskovich, 2006. "Ordered Bargaining," EAG Discussions Papers 200610, Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
    12. Ponsatí­, Clara & Sákovics, József, 2008. "Queues, not just mediocrity: Inefficiency in decentralized markets with vertical differentiation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 998-1014, July.
    13. Clara Ponsati & Jozsef Sakovics, 2005. "Markets for professional services: queues and mediocrity," ESE Discussion Papers 133, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    14. Mitsutoshi M. Adachi, 1998. "A note on frictions in the Bazaar type bargaining game," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 22(2), pages 293-304, May.

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