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Competition, Consumer Welfare, and the Social Cost of Monopoly

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Abstract

Conventional deadweight loss measures of the social cost of monopoly ignore, among other things, the social cost of inducing competition and thus cannot accurately capture the loss in social welfare. In this Article, we suggest an alternative method of measuring the social cost of monopoly. Using elements of general equilibrium theory, we propose a social cost metric where the benchmark is the Pareto optimal state of the economy that uses the least amount of resources, consistent with consumers' utility levels in the monopolized state. If the primary goal of antitrust policy is the enhancement of consumer welfare, then the proper benchmark is Pareto optimality, not simply competitive markets. We discuss the implications of our approach for antitrust law as well as how our methodology can be used in practice for allegations of monopoly power given a history of price-demand observations.

Suggested Citation

  • Yoon-Ho Alex Lee & Donald J. Brown, 2005. "Competition, Consumer Welfare, and the Social Cost of Monopoly," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1528, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1528
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    File URL: http://cowles.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/pub/d15/d1528.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Yao, Shuntian & Gan, Lydia, 2010. "Monopoly innovation and welfare effects," Economics Discussion Papers 2010-10, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Monopoly power; Antitrust economics; Applied general equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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