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Price-Cost Margins and Shares of Fixed Factors

  • Konings, Jozef
  • Roeger, Werner
  • Zhao, Liqiu
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    Reduced form approaches to estimate markups typically exploit variation in observed input and output. However, these approaches ignore the presence of fixed input factors, which may result in an overestimation of the price-cost margins. We first propose a new methodology to simultaneously estimate price-cost margins and the shares of fixed inputs. We then use Belgian firm level data for manufacturing and service sectors to show that markups are lower when taking into account fixed input factors. We find that the average price-cost margin of manufacturing firms is 0.041, compared to 0.090 when we do not control for fixed costs of production. We also show that price-cost margins increase with the share of fixed costs in turnover. Our findings provide new insights about observed high price-cost margins in service industries. In particular, we show that once fixed costs are taken into account, price-cost margins in service industries are comparable to those in manufacturing.

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    Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8290.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8290
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    1. Jan De Loecker & Frederic Warzynski, 2012. "Markups and Firm-Level Export Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2437-71, October.
    2. Rebekka Christopoulou & Philip Vermeulen, 2012. "Markups in the Euro area and the US over the period 1981–2004: a comparison of 50 sectors," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 53-77, February.
    3. Harald Badinger, 2007. "Has the EU’s Single Market Programme Fostered Competition? Testing for a Decrese in Markup Rations in EU Industries," Working Papers 135, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
    4. Oliver Budzinski & Isabel Ruhmer, 2009. "Merger Simulation in Competition Policy: A Survey," Working Papers 82/09, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Environmental and Business Economics.
    5. Bresnahan, Timothy F., 1981. "Departures from marginal-cost pricing in the American automobile industry : Estimates for 1977-1978," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 201-227, November.
    6. Siotis, Georges, 2003. "Competitive pressure and economic integration: an illustration for Spain, 1983-1996," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1435-1459, December.
    7. Jozef Konings & Hylke Vandenbussche, 2004. "Antidumping Protection and Markups of Domestic Firms: Evidence from Firm Level Data," LICOS Discussion Papers 14104, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
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