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The Effect of Mergers on Consumer Prices: Evidence from Five Selected Case Studies

  • Orley Ashenfelter
  • Daniel Hosken

In this paper we propose a method to evaluate the effectiveness of U.S. horizontal merger policy and apply it to the study of five recent consumer product mergers. We selected the mergers from those that, from the public record, seemed to be most problematic for the antitrust agencies. Thus we estimate an upper bound on the likely price effect of completed mergers. Our study employs retail scanner data and uses familiar panel data program evaluation procedures to measure price changes. Our results indicate that four of the five mergers resulted in some increases in consumer prices, while the fifth merger had little effect.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13859.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Publication status: published as The Effect of Mergers on Consumer Prices: Evidence from Five Mergers on the Enforcement Margin Orley Ashenfelter and Daniel Hosken Journal of Law and Economics Vol. 53, No. 3 (August 2010), pp. 417-466 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13859
Note: LE ME PE IO
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  1. Barton, David M & Sherman, Roger, 1984. "The Price and Profit Effects of Horizontal Merger: A Case Study," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(2), pages 165-77, December.
  2. Dario Focarelli & Fabio Panetta, 2003. "Are Mergers Beneficial to Consumers? Evidence from the Market for Bank Deposits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1152-1172, September.
  3. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  4. Raymond Deneckere & Carl Davidson, 1985. "Incentives to Form Coalitions with Bertrand Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(4), pages 473-486, Winter.
  5. Aviv Nevo, 2000. "Mergers with Differentiated Products: The Case of the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(3), pages 395-421, Autumn.
  6. Hendel, Igal & Nevo, Aviv, 2001. "Sales and Consumer Inventory," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt0p18h2d8, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  7. Kim, E Han & Singal, Vijay, 1993. "Mergers and Market Power: Evidence from the Airline Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 549-69, June.
  8. Robert H. Porter & J. Douglas Zona, 1999. "Ohio School Milk Markets: An Analysis of Bidding," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 263-288, Summer.
  9. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:543-561 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 2001. "Do Mergers Increase Product Variety? Evidence From Radio Broadcasting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1009-1025, August.
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  12. Sproul, Michael F, 1993. "Antitrust and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 741-54, August.
  13. Block, Michael Kent & Nold, Frederick Carl, 1981. "The Deterrent Effect of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 429-45, June.
  14. Vita, Michael G & Sacher, Seth, 2001. "The Competitive Effects of Not-for-Profit Hospital Mergers: A Case Study," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 63-84, March.
  15. Robert W. Crandall & Clifford Winston, 2003. "Does Antitrust Policy Improve Consumer Welfare? Assessing the Evidence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
  16. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 1984. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 1489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Newmark, Craig M, 1988. "Is Antitrust Enforcement Effective? Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1315-28, December.
  18. Peters, Craig, 2006. "Evaluating the Performance of Merger Simulation: Evidence from the U.S. Airline Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 627-49, October.
  19. Mark J. McCabe, 2002. "Journal Pricing and Mergers: A Portfolio Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 259-269, March.
  20. Prager, Robin A & Hannan, Timothy H, 1998. "Do Substantial Horizontal Mergers Generate Significant Price Effects? Evidence from the Banking Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 433-52, December.
  21. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  22. Jonathan B. Baker, 2003. "The Case for Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 27-50, Fall.
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