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Existence And Persistence Of Price Dispersion: An Empirical Analysis

  • Saul Lach

Using a unique data set on store-level monthly prices of four homogenous products sold in Israel, I study the existence and characteristics of the dispersion of prices across stores, as well as its persistence over time. I find that price dispersion prevails even after controlling for observed and unobserved product heterogeneity. Moreover, intradistribution mobility is significant: stores move up and down the crosssectional price distribution. Thus, consumers cannot learn about stores that consistently post low prices. As a consequence, price dispersion does not disappear and persists over time as predicted by Varian's (1980) model of sales. © 2002 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/003465302320259457
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 84 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 433-444

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:84:y:2002:i:3:p:433-444
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  1. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1996. "Staggering and Synchronization in Price-Setting: Evidence from Multiproduct Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1175-96, December.
  2. J. Rupert Gatti, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion with Sequential Search," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1368, Econometric Society.
  3. Rajiv Lal & Carmen Matutes, 1989. "Price Competition in Multimarket Duopolies," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(4), pages 516-537, Winter.
  4. Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1978. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Discussion Papers 335, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Rob, Rafael, 1985. "Equilibrium Price Distributions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(3), pages 487-504, July.
  6. Danny Quah, 1992. "Empirical cross-section dynamics in economic growth," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 75, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. John McMillan & Peter B. Morgan, 1988. "Price Dispersion, Price Flexibility, and Repeated Purchasing," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(4), pages 883-902, November.
  8. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
  9. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  10. McAfee R. Preston, 1995. "Multiproduct Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 83-105, October.
  11. Butters, Gerard R, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 465-91, October.
  12. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-69, July.
  13. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1992. "The Behavior of Prices and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis of Disaggregated Price Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 349-89, April.
  14. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Searching for the Lowest Price When the Distribution of Prices Is Unknown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 689-711, July/Aug..
  15. Pratt, John W & Wise, David A & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1979. "Price Differences in Almost Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 189-211, May.
  16. Geweke, John & Marshall, Robert C & Zarkin, Gary A, 1986. "Mobility Indices in Continuous Time Markov Chains," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1407-23, November.
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