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Product Differentiation, Monopolistic Competition, and Public Policy


  • Roger W. Koenker
  • Martin K. Perry


This paper generalizes a model of monopolistic competition attributable to Spence (1976). Firms produce symmetrically differentiated products with declining or U-shaped average costs. Free entry drives profits to zero in equilibrium. Spence finds that when firms behave "competitively," in a specific sense, the market equilibrium yields too little product diversity. However, when Spence's "competitive" behavioral assumption is relaxed, we find that the market may produce excessive diversity; this occurs when product differentiation is weak relative to scale economies of production. We also study two second-best regulatory policies and characterize conditions under which they are potentially effective in improving the market outcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Roger W. Koenker & Martin K. Perry, 1981. "Product Differentiation, Monopolistic Competition, and Public Policy," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(1), pages 217-231, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:12:y:1981:i:spring:p:217-231

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Samet, Dov & Tauman, Yair, 1982. "The Determination of Marginal Cost Prices under a Set of Axioms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 895-909, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. David M. Cutler & Robert S. Huckman & Jonathan T. Kolstad, 2010. "Input Constraints and the Efficiency of Entry: Lessons from Cardiac Surgery," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 51-76, February.
    2. Miao, Chun-Hui, 2016. "Licensing a technology standard," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 33-61.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:11:p:2126-:d:119408 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Yaroslav Kryukov & Ulrich Doraszelski & David Besanko, 2015. "Is Dynamic Competition Socially Beneficial? The Case of Price as Investment," 2015 Meeting Papers 296, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Simon P. Anderson & Andre de Palma, 1989. "The Logit as a Model of Product Differentiation: Further Results and Extensions," Discussion Papers 913, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.

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