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Competition among Spatially Differentiated Firms: An Estimator with an Application to Cement


  • Matthew J Osborne
  • Nathan H. Miller

    (Bureau of Economic Analysis)


We develop an estimator for models of competition among spatially differentiated firms. In contrast to existing methods (e.g., Houde (2009)), the estimator has flexible data requirements and is implementable with data that are observed at any level of aggregation. Further, the estimator is the first to be applicable to models in which firms price discriminate among consumers based on location. We apply the estimator to the portland cement industry in the U.S. Southwest over 1983-2003. We estimate transportation costs to be $0.30 per tonne-mile and show that, given the topology of the U.S. Southwest, these transportation costs permit more geographically isolated plants to discriminate among consumers. We conduct a counterfactual experiment and determine that disallowing this spatial price discrimination would increase consumer surplus by $12 million annually, relative to a volume of commerce of $1.3 billion. Heretofore it has not been possible examine the surplus implications of spatial price discrimination in specific, real-world settings; these implications have been known to be ambiguous theoretically since at least Gronberg and Meyer (1982) and Katz (1984). Additionally, our methodology can be used to construct transportation margins, which are an important component of input-output tables.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew J Osborne & Nathan H. Miller, 2011. "Competition among Spatially Differentiated Firms: An Estimator with an Application to Cement," BEA Working Papers 0072, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:bea:wpaper:0072

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. G. Sirmans & Lynn MacDonald & David Macpherson & Emily Zietz, 2006. "The Value of Housing Characteristics: A Meta Analysis," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 215-240, November.
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    3. Feenstra, Robert C. & Ma, Hong & Rao, D. S. Prasada, 2009. "Consistent Comparisons Of Real Incomes Across Time And Space," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(S2), pages 169-193, September.
    4. Chen, Yi Vivian & Heston, Alan & Lipsey, Robert, 2000. "International and interarea comparisons of income, output and prices," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 363-364, December.
    5. Oulton, Nicholas, 2008. "Chain indices of the cost-of-living and the path-dependence problem: An empirical solution," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 306-324, May.
    6. Heston, Alan & Nakamura, Alice O., 2009. "Questions about the equivalence of market rents and user costs for owner occupied housing," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 273-279, September.
    7. Stephen Malpezzi & Gregory H. Chun & Richard K. Green, 1998. "New Place-to-Place Housing Price Indexes for U.S. Metropolitan Areas, and Their Determinants," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 235-274.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bridgman, Benjamin, 2015. "Competition, work rules and productivity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 136-149.
    2. Chicu, Mark & Vickers, Chris & Ziebarth, Nicolas L., 2013. "Cementing the case for collusion under the National Recovery Administration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 487-507.
    3. Miller, Nathan H. & Osborne, Matthew, 2014. "Consistency and asymptotic normality for equilibrium models with partially observed outcome variables," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(1), pages 70-74.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General
    • L61 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Metals and Metal Products; Cement; Glass; Ceramics

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