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The effects of competition on price dispersion in the airline industry: a panel analysis

  • Kris Gerardi
  • Adam Hale Shapiro

This paper analyzes the effects of market structure on price dispersion in the airline industry, using panel data from 1993 through 2006. The results found in this paper contrast with those of Borenstein and Rose (1994), who found that price dispersion increases with competition. We find that competition has a negative effect on price dispersion, in line with the textbook treatment of price discrimination. Specifically, the effects of competition on price dispersion are most significant on routes that we identify as having consumers characterized by relatively heterogeneous elasticities of demand. On routes with a more homogenous customer base, the effects of competition on price discrimination are largely insignificant. We conclude from these results that competition acts to erode the ability of a carrier to price discriminate, resulting in reduced overall price dispersion.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 07-7.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:07-7
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  1. Austan Goolsbee & Chad Syverson, 2008. "How do Incumbents Respond to the Threat of Entry? Evidence from the Major Airlines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1611-1633, November.
  2. Prescott, Edward C, 1975. "Efficiency of the Natural Rate," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1229-36, December.
  3. Joanna Stavins, 1996. "Price discrimination in the airline market: the effect of market concentration," Working Papers 96-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. Kathy J. Hayes & Leola B. Ross, 1998. "Is Airline Price Dispersion the Result of Careful Planning or Competitive Forces?," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 13(5), pages 523-541, October.
  5. Borenstein, Severin & Rose, Nancy L, 1994. "Competition and Price Dispersion in the U.S. Airline Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 653-83, August.
  6. Berry, Steven T, 1992. "Estimation of a Model of Entry in the Airline Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 889-917, July.
  7. Severin Borenstein, 1989. "Hubs and High Fares: Dominance and Market Power in the U.S. Airline Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(3), pages 344-365, Autumn.
  8. Holmes, Thomas J, 1989. "The Effects of Third-Degree Price Discrimination in Oligopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 244-50, March.
  9. repec:att:wimass:9214 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Varian, Hal R., 1989. "Price discrimination," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 597-654 Elsevier.
  11. Jan K. Brueckner & Nichola J. Dyer & Pablo T. Spiller, 1992. "Fare Determination in Airline Hub-and-Spoke Networks," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(3), pages 309-333, Autumn.
  12. Lott, John R, Jr & Roberts, Russell D, 1991. "A Guide to the Pitfalls of Identifying Price Discrimination," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(1), pages 14-23, January.
  13. James D. Dana Jr., 1999. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion Under Demand Uncertainty: The Roles of Costly Capacity and Market Structure," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(4), pages 632-660, Winter.
  14. Evans, William N & Kessides, Ioannis N, 1993. "Localized Market Power in the U.S. Airline Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 66-75, February.
  15. Eden, Benjamin, 1990. "Marginal Cost Pricing When Spot Markets Are Complete," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1293-1306, December.
  16. Harumi Ito & Darin Lee, 2003. "Low Cost Carrier Growth in the U.S. Airline Industry: Past, Present, and Future," Working Papers 2003-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  17. Ila Alam & Leola Ross & Robin Sickles, 2001. "Time Series Analysis of Strategic Pricing Behavior in the US Airline Industry," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 49-62, July.
  18. Borenstein, Severin & Rose, Nancy L, 1995. "Bankruptcy and Pricing Behavior in U.S. Airline Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 397-402, May.
  19. Berry, Steven T, 1990. "Airport Presence as Product Differentiation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 394-99, May.
  20. Brueckner, Jan K. & Spiller, Pablo T., 1991. "Competition and mergers in airline networks," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 323-342, September.
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