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Price distributions and competition

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  • Kenneth Burdett
  • Eric Smith

Abstract

Considerable evidence demonstrates that significant dispersion exists in the prices charged for seemingly homogeneous goods. This paper adopts a simple, flexible equilibrium model of search to investigate the way the market structure influences price dispersion. Using the noisy search approach, the paper demonstrates the effects of having a single large, price-leading firm with multiple outlets and a competitive fringe of small firms with one retail outlet each.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Burdett & Eric Smith, 2009. "Price distributions and competition," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-27, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2009-27
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George Alessandria, 2004. "International Deviations From The Law Of One Price: The Role Of Search Frictions And Market Share," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1263-1291, November.
    2. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-659, September.
    3. John W. Pratt & David A. Wise & Richard Zeckhauser, 1979. "Price Differences in almost Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 189-211.
    4. Erik Brynjolfsson & Michael D. Smith, 2000. "Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 563-585, April.
    5. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
    6. Villas-Boas, J Miguel, 1995. "Models of Competitive Price Promotions: Some Empirical Evidence from the Coffee and Saltine Crackers Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 85-107, Spring.
    7. Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1979. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 851-858, August.
    8. Spulber, Daniel F, 1995. "Bertrand Competition When Rivals' Costs Are Unknown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-11, March.
    9. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2004. "Price Dispersion In The Small And In The Large: Evidence From An Internet Price Comparison Site," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 463-496, December.
    10. Rafael Rob, 1985. "Equilibrium Price Distributions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 487-504.
    11. Carlson, John A & McAfee, R Preston, 1983. "Discrete Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 480-493, June.
    12. Maarten C. W. Janssen & José Luis Moraga-González, 2004. "Strategic Pricing, Consumer Search and the Number of Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1089-1118.
    13. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
    14. Alan T. Sorensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion in Retail Markets for Prescription Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 833-862, August.
    15. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
    16. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213-213.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nermuth, Manfred & Pasini, Giacomo & Pin, Paolo & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2013. "The informational divide," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 21-30.
    2. repec:eee:indorg:v:55:y:2017:i:c:p:137-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Obradovits, Martin, 2015. "Going to the Discounter: Consumer Search with Local Market Heterogeneities," MPRA Paper 66613, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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