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Consumer Heterogeneity and Markups over the Business Cycle: Evidence from the Airline Industry

Author

Listed:
  • Marco Cornia
  • Kristopher S. Gerardi
  • Adam Hale Shapiro

    (Bureau of Economic Analysis)

Abstract

We analyze price dispersion in the airline industry in order to determine the e®ects of the business cycle on markup variations. We ¯nd that the cycle can a®ect the degree to which airlines can price discriminate between di®erent consumer types, ultimately a®ecting the degree of price dispersion. Performing a ¯xed-e®ects panel analysis on 17 years of data covering two business cycles, we ¯nd that price dispersion is highly procyclical. Estimates show that a rise in the output gap of one percentage point increases the interquartile range by 1.6 percent. These results suggest that markups move procyclically in the airline industry, such that during booms in the cycle, the ¯rm can signi¯cantly raise the markup charged to those with high willingness to pay. Our analysis suggests that this impact on the ¯rm's ability to price discriminate imposes extra pro¯t risk to the ¯rm over and above cost variations.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Cornia & Kristopher S. Gerardi & Adam Hale Shapiro, 2010. "Consumer Heterogeneity and Markups over the Business Cycle: Evidence from the Airline Industry," BEA Working Papers 0056, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:bea:wpaper:0056
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ian Domowitz & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1986. "Business Cycles and the Relationship Between Concentration and Price-Cost Margins," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 1-17, Spring.
    2. Adam Hale Shapiro & Ana Aizcorbe, 2010. "Implications of Consumer Heterogeneity on Price Measures for Technology Goods," BEA Working Papers 0062, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    3. Austan Goolsbee & Chad Syverson, 2008. "How Do Incumbents Respond to the Threat of Entry? Evidence from the Major Airlines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1611-1633.
    4. Eden, Benjamin, 1990. "Marginal Cost Pricing When Spot Markets Are Complete," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1293-1306, December.
    5. Chevalier, Judith A & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Countercyclical Markups: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 703-725, September.
    6. Borenstein, Severin & Rose, Nancy L, 1994. "Competition and Price Dispersion in the U.S. Airline Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 653-683, August.
    7. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Adam Hale Shapiro, 2009. "Does Competition Reduce Price Dispersion? New Evidence from the Airline Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37, February.
    8. Edmond, Chris & Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Income dispersion and counter-cyclical markups," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 791-804, September.
    9. Steven L. Puller & Anirban Sengupta & Steven N. Wiggins, 2009. "Testing Theories of Scarcity Pricing in the Airline Industry," NBER Working Papers 15555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Dana, James D, Jr, 2001. "Monopoly Price Dispersion under Demand Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(3), pages 649-670, August.
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    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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