Regulated Prices, Rent Seeking, and Consumer Surplus
Price controls lead to misallocation of goods and encourage rent seeking. The misallocation effect alone ensures that a price control always reduces consumer surplus in an otherwise-competitive market with convex demand if supply is more elastic than demand or with log-convex demand (e.g., constant elasticity) even if supply is inelastic. The same results apply whether rationed goods are allocated by costless lottery or whether costly rent seeking and/or partial decontrol mitigates the inefficiency. Our analysis exploits the observation that in any market, consumer surplus equals the area between the demand curve and the industry marginal revenue curve.
References listed on IDEAS
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