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Asymmetric price effects of competition

  • Lach, Saul


    (The Hebrew University)

  • Moraga, Jose L.

    (University of Groningen)

This paper examines how the distribution of prices changes with the number of competitors in the market. Using gasoline price data from the Netherlands we find that as competition increases, the distribution of prices spreads out: the low prices go down while the high prices go up, on average. As a result, competition has an asymmetric effect on prices. These findings, which are consistent with a theoretical model where consumers differ in the information they have about prices, imply that consumers' gains from competition depend on their shopping behavior. In our data, all consumers, irrespective of the number of prices they observe, benefit from an increase in the number of gas stations. The magnitude of the welfare gain, however, is greater for those consumers that are aware of more prices. We conclude that an increase in the number of gas stations has a positive but unequal effect on the welfare of consumers in the Netherlands.

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Paper provided by IESE Business School in its series IESE Research Papers with number D/797.

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Length: 66 pages
Date of creation: 15 Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0797
Contact details of provider: Postal: IESE Business School, Av Pearson 21, 08034 Barcelona, SPAIN
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  1. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Jonathan Guryan, 2008. "Prejudice and Wages: An Empirical Assessment of Becker's The Economics of Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(5), pages 773-809, October.
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  8. Ambarish Chandra & Mariano Tappata, 2011. "Consumer search and dynamic price dispersion: an application to gasoline markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(4), pages 681-704, December.
  9. Matthijs R Wildenbeest, 2009. "An Empirical Model of Search with Vertically Differentiated Products," Working Papers 2009-01, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  10. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2004. "Price Dispersion in the Small and in the Large: Evidence from an Internet Price Comparison Site," Working Papers 2004-03, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  11. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1980. "A Model in Which an Increase in the Number of Sellers Leads to a Higher Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1575-79, September.
  12. Matthew Lewis, 2008. "PRICE DISPERSION AND COMPETITION WITH DIFFERENTIATED SELLERS -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 654-678, 09.
  13. Barron, John M. & Taylor, Beck A. & Umbeck, John R., 2004. "Number of sellers, average prices, and price dispersion," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(8-9), pages 1041-1066, November.
  14. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
  15. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Adam Hale Shapiro, 2009. "Does Competition Reduce Price Dispersion? New Evidence from the Airline Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37, 02.
  16. Waterson, Michael, 2001. "The role of consumers in competition and competition policy," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 607, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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