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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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File URL: http://www2.ne.su.se/paper/wp10_26.pdf
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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
Web page: http://www.ne.su.se/Email:


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  8. Michael W.M. Roos, 2003. "Regional price levels in Germany," ERSA conference papers ersa03p511, European Regional Science Association.
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  11. 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.
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  18. Ina Simonovska, 2010. "Income differences and prices of tradables," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  19. Thierry Mayer & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2008. "The Happy Few: The Internationalisation of European Firms," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 135-148, May.
  20. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  21. Lancaster, Kelvin, 1980. "Competition and Product Variety," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages S79-103, July.
  22. 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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  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
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  29. Benassy, Jean-Pascal, 1996. "Taste for variety and optimum production patterns in monopolistic competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 41-47, July.
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