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An Empirical Study of Price Dispersion in Homogenous Goods Markets


  • Thierry Warin


  • Daniel B. Leiter


This paper presents the results of an empirical study of price dispersion in homogeneous goods markets. Modern economic theory suggests that inevitable asymmetries of information in markets lead to an equilibrium in which price dispersion is present even when goods are perfectly homogenous. In this paper we present an empirical analysis in which we employ both cross-sectional and time-series data gathered directly from, one of the most popular and comprehensive online shopping/price-comparison sites on the Internet. In particular our analysis focuses on (i) the effect that the number of firms offering a good has on price dispersion, (ii) the informational value to the consumer of using the Pricegrabber website, and (iii) the persistency of price dispersion over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Thierry Warin & Daniel B. Leiter, 2007. "An Empirical Study of Price Dispersion in Homogenous Goods Markets," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0710, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0710

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Morgan, John & Orzen, Henrik & Sefton, Martin, 2006. "An experimental study of price dispersion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 134-158, January.
    2. Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510.
    3. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-659, September.
    4. Narasimhan, Chakravarthi, 1988. "Competitive Promotional Strategies," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(4), pages 427-449, October.
    5. Steven Salop, 1977. "The Noisy Monopolist: Imperfect Information, Price Dispersion and Price Discrimination," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 393-406.
    6. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1980. "A Model in Which an Increase in the Number of Sellers Leads to a Higher Price," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(6), pages 1575-1579, September.
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Babecký & Fabrizio Coricelli & Roman Horváth, 2009. "Assessing Inflation Persistence: Micro Evidence on an Inflation Targeting Economy," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 59(2), pages 102-127, June.
    2. repec:eee:retrec:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:37-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fabrizio Coricelli & Roman Horváth, 2010. "Price setting and market structure: an empirical analysis of micro data in Slovakia," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2-3), pages 209-233.

    More about this item


    E-commerce; Internet marketing; Price dispersion; Signaling; Search Cost; Gatekeepers; Regression and other statistical techniques JEL Classification: L81; L86; L11;

    JEL classification:

    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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