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Goods Prices and Availability in Cities

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  • Jessie Handbury
  • David E. Weinstein

Abstract

This article uses detailed barcode data on purchase transactions by households in 49 U.S. cities to calculate the first theoretically founded urban price index. In doing so, we overcome a large number of problems that have plagued spatial price index measurement. We identify two important sources of bias. Heterogeneity bias arises from comparing different goods in different locations, and variety bias arises from not correcting for the fact that some goods are unavailable in some locations. Eliminating heterogeneity bias causes 97% of the variance in the price level of food products across cities to disappear relative to a conventional index. Eliminating both biases reverses the common finding that prices tend to be higher in larger cities. Instead, we find that price level for food products falls with city size.

Suggested Citation

  • Jessie Handbury & David E. Weinstein, 2015. "Goods Prices and Availability in Cities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 258-296.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:82:y:2015:i:1:p:258-296
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdu033
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    1. Gianmarco Ottaviano & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-François Thisse, 2021. "Agglomeration And Trade Revisited," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Firms and Workers in a Globalized World Larger Markets, Tougher Competition, chapter 3, pages 59-85, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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