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Nominal Rigidities and Retail Price Dispersion in Canada over the Twentieth Century


  • Ross D. Hickey
  • David S. Jacks


We introduce a new data set on over 230,000 monthly prices for 10 goods in 50 Canadian cities over the 40 year period from 1910 to 1950. This coupled with previously published price information from the late twentieth century allows us to present one of the first comprehensive views of nominal rigidities and retail price dispersion over the past 100 years. We find that nominal rigidities have been conditioned upon prevailing rates of inflation with a greater frequency of price changes occurring in the 1920s and the 1970s. Additionally, the process of retail market integration has surprisingly followed a U-shaped trajectory, with many domestic markets being better integrated--as measured by the average dispersion of retail prices--at mid-century than in the 1990s. We also consider the linkages between nominal rigidities and price dispersion, finding results consistent with present-day data.

Suggested Citation

  • Ross D. Hickey & David S. Jacks, 2010. "Nominal Rigidities and Retail Price Dispersion in Canada over the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 16098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16098
    Note: DAE

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    Cited by:

    1. Crucini, Mario J. & Shintani, Mototsugu & Tsuruga, Takayuki, 2015. "Noisy information, distance and law of one price dynamics across US cities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 52-66.
    2. Giovanni Federico & Paul Sharp, 2013. "The cost of railroad regulation: the disintegration of American agricultural markets in the interwar period," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 66(4), pages 1017-1038, November.
    3. James MacGee & Chris Hajzler, 2012. "Retail Price Differences across U.S. and Canadian Cities during the Interwar Period," 2012 Meeting Papers 1126, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. David Fielding & Christopher Hajzler & James MacGee, 2017. "Price-Level Dispersion versus Inflation-Rate Dispersion: Evidence from Three Countries," Staff Working Papers 17-3, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • N82 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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