State Casket Sales Restrictions: A Pointless Undertaking?
We utilize a new micro data set of prices of funeral goods and services at individual funeral homes, plus data from the Economic Census, to examine the effects of state regulations that restrict entry into the funeral goods market. In particular, some states have regulations that allow only licensed funeral homes to sell caskets, while others allow unlicensed retailers, such as Costco, to sell them. However, as caskets and funeral services are complements, generally purchased in one-to-one proportions, it is not a priori clear that casket sales restrictions can expand the rent extraction capabilities of licensed funeral homes. Our results suggest that when courts lift funeral goods sales restrictions, the prices of funeral goods fall but the prices of funeral services rise by nearly as much. Overall, our results support the one-monopoly-rent hypothesis; we do not find that, overall, funeral home revenues decline when restrictions on funeral goods sales are lifted. (c) 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
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