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Vertical Integration in Gasoline Supply: An Empirical Test of Raising Rivals' Costs


  • Gilbert, Richard
  • Hastings, Justine


This paper explores the relationship between the structure of the market for the refining and distribution of gasoline and the wholesale price of unbranded gasoline sold to independent gasoline retailers. Theoretically, the effect of an increase in vertical integration is ambiguous because opposing forces act to increase and decrease wholesale prices. We empirically examine the effects of vertical and horizontal market structures on wholesale prices using both a broad panel and an event analysis. The panel covers twenty-six metropolitan areas from January 1993 through June 1997. The event is a merger of Tosco and Unocal in 1997 that changed the vertical and horizontal structure of thirteen West Coast metropolitan areas. Both data sets show that an increase in the degree of vertical integration is associated with higher wholesale prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilbert, Richard & Hastings, Justine, 2001. "Vertical Integration in Gasoline Supply: An Empirical Test of Raising Rivals' Costs," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt3b7101mj, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt3b7101mj

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Tülin Erdem & Susumu Imai & Michael Keane, 2003. "Brand and Quantity Choice Dynamics Under Price Uncertainty," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 5-64, March.
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    4. Victor Aguirregabiria, 1999. "The Dynamics of Markups and Inventories in Retailing Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(2), pages 275-308.
    5. John Conlisk & Eitan Gerstner & Joel Sobel, 1984. "Cyclic Pricing by a Durable Goods Monopolist," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 489-505.
    6. Boizot, Christine & Robin, Jean-Marc & Visser, Michael, 2001. "The Demand for Food Products: An Analysis of Interpurchase Times and Purchased Quantities," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 391-419, April.
    7. Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2003. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 15-37, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zava Aydemir & Stefan Buehler, 2002. "Estimating Vertical Foreclosure in U.S. Gasoline Supply," SOI - Working Papers 0212, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
    2. Erich J. Muehlegger, 2004. "Gasoline Price Spikes and Regional Gasoline Content Regulations - A Structural Approach," Working Papers 0421, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
    3. Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson, 2007. "Cementing Relationships: Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, Productivity, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 250-301.
    4. Jack (Xinlei) Chen & Om Narasimhan & George John & Tirtha Dhar, 2010. "An Empirical Investigation of Private Label Supply by National Label Producers," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(4), pages 738-755, 07-08.

    More about this item


    vertical integration; oligopoly; market power; gasoline;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L72 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Other Nonrenewable Resources
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure


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