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Price Controls and Consumer Surplus

Author

Listed:
  • Bulow, Jeremy

    (Stanford University)

  • Klemperer, Paul

    (Oxford University)

Abstract

Price controls lead to misallocation of goods and encourage rent-seeking. The misallocation effect alone is enough to ensure that consumer surplus is always reduced by a price control in an otherwise-competitive market with convex demand if supply is more elastic than demand; or when demand is log-convex (e.g., constant-elasticity) even if supply is inelastic. The same results apply both when rationed goods are allocated by costless lottery among interested consumers, and when costly rent-seeking and/or partial de-control mitigates the allocative inefficiency. The results are best understood using the fact that in any market, consumer surplus equals the area between the demand curve and the industry marginal revenue curve.

Suggested Citation

  • Bulow, Jeremy & Klemperer, Paul, 2011. "Price Controls and Consumer Surplus," Research Papers 2086, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2086
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    File URL: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2086.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Palda, Filip, 2000. "Some deadweight losses from the minimum wage: the cases of full and partial compliance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(6), pages 751-783, November.
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    3. Mark Bagnoli & Ted Bergstrom, 2005. "Log-concave probability and its applications," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 26(2), pages 445-469, August.
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    5. Luttmer Erzo F.P., 2007. "Does the Minimum Wage Cause Inefficient Rationing?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, October.
    6. An, Mark Yuying, 1998. "Logconcavity versus Logconvexity: A Complete Characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 350-369, June.
    7. Edward L. Glaeser & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2003. "The Misallocation of Housing Under Rent Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1027-1046, September.
    8. W. Kip Viscusi & Joseph E. Harrington & John M. Vernon, 2005. "Economics of Regulation and Antitrust, 4th Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 4, volume 1, number 026222075x, January.
    9. Roger B. Myerson, 1981. "Optimal Auction Design," Mathematics of Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 6(1), pages 58-73, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simon Cowan, 2012. "Third-Degree Price Discrimination and Consumer Surplus," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 333-345, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D45 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Rationing; Licensing
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis

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