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Evaluating Welfare with Nonlinear Prices


  • Peter C. Reiss
  • Matthew W. White


This paper examines how to evaluate consumer welfare when consumers face nonlinear prices. This problem arises in many settings, such as devising optimal pricing strategies for firms, assessing how price discrimination affects consumers, and evaluating the efficiency costs of many transfer programs in the public sector. We extend prior methods to accommodate a broad range of modern pricing practices, including menus of pricing plans. This analysis yields a simpler and more general technique for evaluating exact consumer surplus changes in settings where consumers face nonlinear prices. We illustrate our method using recent changes in mobile phone service plans.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter C. Reiss & Matthew W. White, 2006. "Evaluating Welfare with Nonlinear Prices," NBER Working Papers 12370, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12370
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    Cited by:

    1. H. Allen Klaiber & V. Kerry Smith & Michael Kaminsky & Aaron Strong, 2014. "Measuring Price Elasticities for Residential Water Demand with Limited Information," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 90(1), pages 100-113.
    2. Dalton, Christina M., 2014. "Estimating demand elasticities using nonlinear pricing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 178-191.
    3. Raymond Palmquist & Daniel Phaneuf & V. Smith, 2010. "Short Run Constraints and the Increasing Marginal Value of Time in Recreation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 46(1), pages 19-41, May.
    4. V. Smith & Mary Evans & H. Banzhaf & Christine Poulos, 2010. "Can Weak Substitution be Rehabilitated?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 45(2), pages 203-221, February.
    5. David Rappoport, 2016. "Do Mortgage Subsidies Help or Hurt Borrowers?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-081, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    6. Klaiber, H. Allen & Smith, V. Kerry & Kaminsky, Michael & Strong, Aaron, 2010. "Estimating the Price Elasticity of Demand for Water with Quasi Experimental Methods," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61039, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Aaron Strong & V. Kerry Smith, 2010. "Reconsidering the Economics of Demand Analysis with Kinked Budget Constraints," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(1), pages 173-190.
    8. Arjan Ruijs, 2009. "Welfare and Distribution Effects of Water Pricing Policies," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 43(2), pages 161-182, June.
    9. Cristina Lopez-Mayan, 2014. "Microeconometric Analysis of Residential Water Demand," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 59(1), pages 137-166, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General

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