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Endogenous Product Differentiation, Market Size and Prices

Recent empirical evidence suggests that prices for many goods and services are higher in larger markets. This paper provides an explanation for this phenomenon when firms can choose how much to differentiate their products in a monopolistically competitive environment. The model proposes that consumers’ love of variety makes them more sensitive to product differentiation efforts by firms, which leads to higher prices in larger markets. Larger markets lead to greater variety and products that are more differentiated, which provides consumers with greater welfare despite the adverse effect of product differentiation on prices. The social planner does not charge a markup, which allows it to differentiate products more than is possible in the competitive equilibrium. The model also provides an explanation for why prices do not always fall when trade is liberalized.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2010:26.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 09 Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2010_0026
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46 8 16 20 00
Fax: +46 8 16 14 25
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  1. Yunker, James A., 1979. "Variety, equity and efficiency: Product variety in an industrial society : By Kelvin Lancaster. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979. Pp. 373, Price: $22.50," Journal of Behavioral Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 195-197.
  2. repec:bla:restud:v:67:y:2000:i:2:p:235-54 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Markusen, James R & Venables, Anthony J, 1997. "The Role of Multinational Firms in the Wage-Gap Debate," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(4), pages 435-51, November.
  4. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Reiss, Peter C, 1991. "Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 977-1009, October.
  5. Ina Simonovska, 2010. "Income differences and prices of tradables," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  6. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," NBER Working Papers 10501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. repec:oup:restud:v:77:y:2010:i:4:p:1450-1476 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Steven Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 2010. "PRODUCT QUALITY AND MARKET SIZE -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  10. Benassy, Jean-Pascal, 1996. "Taste for variety and optimum production patterns in monopolistic competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 41-47, July.
  11. Lorz Oliver & Wrede Matthias, 2009. "Trade and Variety in a Model of Endogenous Product Differentiation," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-14, November.
  12. Jeffrey Campbell, 2000. "Market Size Matters," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1225, Econometric Society.
  13. 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.
  14. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2011. "Zeros, Quality, and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 60-88, May.
  15. Ekholm, Karolina & Midelfart, Karen Helene, 2005. "Relative wages and trade-induced changes in technology," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1637-1663, August.
  16. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  17. Gianmarco Ottaviano & Thierry Mayer, . "The happy few: the internationalisation of European firms," Blueprints, Bruegel, number 12, June.
  18. repec:oup:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:1:p:295-316 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Yongmin Chen & Michael H. Riordan, 2008. "Price-increasing competition," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(4), pages 1042-1058.
  20. Rabah Amir & Val E. Lambson, 1998. "On the Effects of Entry in Cournot Markets," CIE Discussion Papers 1998-06, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  21. Yongmin Chen & Michael H. Riordan, 2007. "Price and Variety in the Spokes Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 897-921, 07.
  22. Amit Khandelwal, 2009. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," NBER Working Papers 15178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Paula Bustos, 2005. "The impact of trade liberalization on skill upgrading. Evidence from Argentina," Economics Working Papers 1189, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2011.
  24. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains From Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585.
  25. Michael Roos, 2006. "Regional price levels in Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(13), pages 1553-1566.
  26. Harald Badinger, 2007. "Has the EU’s Single Market Programme Fostered Competition? Testing for a Decrese in Markup Rations in EU Industries," Working Papers 135, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  27. Robert C. Feenstra, 2006. "New Evidence on the Gains from Trade," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 142(4), pages 617-641, December.
  28. Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Scholarly Articles 3229096, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  29. Ina Simonovska, 2010. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables: Insights from an Online Retailer," NBER Working Papers 16233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Lancaster, Kelvin, 1980. "Competition and Product Variety," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages S79-103, July.
  31. Martin L. Weitzman, 1994. "Monopolistic Competition with Endogenous Specialization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(1), pages 45-56.
  32. Tabuchi, Takatoshi & Yoshida, Atsushi, 2000. "Separating Urban Agglomeration Economies in Consumption and Production," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 70-84, July.
  33. Matthias Helble & Toshihiro Okubo, 2008. "Heterogeneous Quality Firms and Trade Costs," Discussion Paper Series 220, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
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