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Monopolistic competition and optimum product selection: why and how heterogeneity matters

  • Antonella Nocco
  • Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano
  • Matteo Salto

After some decades of relative oblivion, the interest in the optimality properties of monopolistic competition has recently re-emerged due to the availability of an appropriate and parsimonious framework to deal with firm heterogeneity. Within this framework we show that non-separable utility, variable demand elasticity and endogenous firm heterogeneity cause the market equilibrium to err in many ways, concerning the number of products, the size and the choice of producers, the overall size of the monopolistically competitive sector. More crucially with respect to the existing literature, we also show that the extent of the errors depends on the degree of firm heterogeneity. In particular, the inefficiency of the market equilibrium seems to be largest when selection among heterogeneous firms is needed most, that is, when there are relatively many firms with low productivity and relatively few firms with high productivity.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/51541/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 51541.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51541
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  1. Bagnoli, M. & Bergstrom, T., 1989. "Log-Concave Probability And Its Applications," Papers 89-23, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  2. Marc Melitz & Stephen Redding, . "New Trade Models, New Welfare Implications," Working Paper 65406, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  3. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Carole Maignan & Gianmarco Ottaviano & Dino Pinelli & Francesco Rullani, 2003. "Bio-Ecological Diversity vs. Socio-Economic Diversity: A Comparison of Existing Measures," Working Papers 2003.13, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  5. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. OTTAVIANO, Gianmarco & TABUCHI , Takatoshi & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Agglomeration and trade revisited," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1553, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Development Working Papers 201, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
  8. Kristian Behrens & Yasusada Murata, 2009. "Trade, Competition, and Efficiency," Cahiers de recherche 0940, CIRPEE.
  9. Marc J. Melitz & Stephen J. Redding, 2012. "Heterogeneous Firms and Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp1183, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2009. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," NBER Working Papers 15628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Melitz, Marc J & Redding, Stephen J., 2013. "Firm Heterogeneity and Aggregate Welfare," CEPR Discussion Papers 9405, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Behrens, Kristian & Murata, Yasusada, 2007. "General equilibrium models of monopolistic competition: A new approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 776-787, September.
  13. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity (DOI:10.111/j.1467-937x.2007.00463.x)," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 985-985.
  14. Kokovin, Sergey & Thisse, Jacques-François & Zhelobodko, Evgeny, 2010. "Monopolistic Competition: Beyond the CES," CEPR Discussion Papers 7947, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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