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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/
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  1. Oliver Lorz & Matthias Wrede, 2009. "Trade and Variety in a Model of Endogenous Product Differentiation," MAGKS Papers on Economics 200902, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  2. AMIR, Rabah & LAMBSON, Val, 1999. "On the effects of entry in Cournot markets," CORE Discussion Papers 1999059, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Markusen, James R. & Venables, Anthony, 1996. "The role of multinational firms in the wage-gap debate," Discussion Papers, Series II 322, University of Konstanz, Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 178 "Internationalization of the Economy".
  4. Ekholm, Karolina & Ulltveit-Moe, Karen-Helene, 2001. "Relative Wages and Trade-Induced Changes in Technology," CEPR Discussion Papers 2677, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. David Weinstein & Christian Broda, 2004. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety," 2004 Meeting Papers 530, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  7. Ina Simonovska, 2010. "Income Differences and Prices of Tradables: Insights from an Online Retailer," NBER Working Papers 16233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Hugo Hopenhayn, 2003. "Market size matters," Working Paper Series WP-03-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. Amit Khandelwal, 2010. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1450-1476.
  11. Helble, Matthias & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2008. "Heterogeneous quality firms and trade costs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4550, The World Bank.
  12. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  13. Steven Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 2010. "PRODUCT QUALITY AND MARKET SIZE -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  14. Ina Simonovska, 2010. "Income differences and prices of tradables," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 55, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  15. Lancaster, Kelvin, 1980. "Competition and Product Variety," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages S79-103, July.
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  17. 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).
  18. 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.
  19. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1181-1222, December.
  20. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  21. Paula Bustos, 2011. "The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Skill Upgrading Evidence from Argentina," Working Papers 559, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  22. Weitzman, Martin L, 1994. "Monopolistic Competition with Endogenous Specialization," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 45-56, January.
  23. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
  24. 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.
  25. Benassy, Jean-Pascal, 1996. "Taste for variety and optimum production patterns in monopolistic competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 41-47, July.
  26. Richard Baldwin & James Harrigan, 2007. "Zeros, Quality and Space: Trade Theory and Trade Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
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