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Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code

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  • Emek Basker
  • Timothy Simcoe

Abstract

We study the adoption, diffusion, and impacts of the Universal Product Code (UPC) between 1975 and 1992, during the initial years of the barcode system. We find evidence of network effects in the diffusion process. Matched-sample difference-in-difference estimates show that firm size and trademark registrations increase following UPC adoption by manufacturers. Industry-level import penetration also increases with domestic UPC adoption. Our findings suggest that barcodes, scanning, and related technologies helped stimulate variety-enhancing product innovation and encourage the growth of international retail supply chains.

Suggested Citation

  • Emek Basker & Timothy Simcoe, 2017. "Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code," Working Papers 17-66, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:17-66
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    Cited by:

    1. David Argente & Munseob Lee & Sara Moreira, 2018. "How do Firms Grow? The Life Cycle of Products Matters," 2018 Meeting Papers 1174, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Universal Product Code; Barcode; Supply Chain; Network Effects;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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