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Sales Force and Competition in Financial Product Markets: The Case Of Mexico’s Social Security Privatization

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  • Justine S. Hastings
  • Ali Hortaçsu
  • Chad Syverson

Abstract

This paper examines how sales force impact competition and equilibrium prices in the context of a privatized pension market. We use detailed administrative data on fund manager choices and worker characteristics at the inception of Mexico’s privatized social security system, where fund managers had to set prices (management fees) at the national level, but could select sales force levels by local geographic areas. We develop and estimate a model of fund manager choice where sales force can increase or decrease customer price sensitivity. We find exposure to sales force lowered price sensitivity, leading to inelastic demand and high equilibrium fees. We simulate oft-proposed policy solutions: a supply-side policy with a competitive government player and a demand-side policy which increases price elasticity. We find that demand-side policies are necessary to foster competition in social safety net markets with large segments of inelastic consumers.

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  • Justine S. Hastings & Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson, 2013. "Sales Force and Competition in Financial Product Markets: The Case Of Mexico’s Social Security Privatization," NBER Working Papers 18881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18881
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    Cited by:

    1. Margaret Miller & Julia Reichelstein & Christian Salas & Bilal Zia, 2015. "Can You Help Someone Become Financially Capable? A Meta-Analysis of the Literature," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 30(2), pages 220-246.
    2. Chioveanu, Ioana, 2019. "Prominence, complexity, and pricing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 551-582.
    3. Ali Hortaçsu & Seyed Ali Madanizadeh & Steven L. Puller, 2017. "Power to Choose? An Analysis of Consumer Inertia in the Residential Electricity Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 192-226, November.
    4. Matteo Benetton, 2017. "Lenders' Competition and Macro-prudential Regulation: A Model of the UK Mortgage Supermarket," 2017 Meeting Papers 1001, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Nathaniel Hilger, 2017. "All Together Now: Leveraging Firms to Increase Worker Productivity Growth," NBER Working Papers 23905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Serafin Grundl & You Suk Kim, 2019. "Consumer mistakes and advertising: The case of mortgage refinancing," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 161-213, June.
    7. Mark L. Egan & Shan Ge & Johnny Tang, 2020. "Conflicting Interests and the Effect of Fiduciary Duty — Evidence from Variable Annuities," NBER Working Papers 27577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Yang Sun, 2021. "Index Fund Entry and Financial Product Market Competition," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 67(1), pages 500-523, January.
    9. Valentino Dardanoni & Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti & Christopher J. Tyson, 2020. "Inferring Cognitive Heterogeneity From Aggregate Choices," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(3), pages 1269-1296, May.
    10. Lint Barrage & Eric Chyn & Justine Hastings, 2020. "Advertising and Environmental Stewardship: Evidence from the BP Oil Spill," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 33-61, February.
    11. Naoki Aizawa & You Suk Kim, 2020. "Government Advertising in Market-Based Public Programs: Evidence from the Health Insurance Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 27695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Giuseppe Marotta, 2018. "Why choosing dominated personal pension plans: sales force and financial literacy effects," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 0072, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
    13. Gu, Yiquan & Wenzel, Tobias, 2020. "Curbing obfuscation: Empower consumers or regulate firms?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    14. Hitoshi Hayakawa & Susumu Imai & Kazuko Nakata, 2018. "Empirical Analysis of Brands: A Survey," The Japanese Economic Review, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 324-339, September.
    15. Justine Hastings & Christopher A. Neilson & Seth D. Zimmerman, 2015. "The Effects of Earnings Disclosure on College Enrollment Decisions," NBER Working Papers 21300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Sam Flanders & Melati Nungsari & Marcela Parada‐Contzen, 2020. "Pricing schemes and market efficiency in private retirement systems," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 22(4), pages 1041-1068, August.
    17. Marotta, Giuseppe, 2020. "Behind the success of dominated personal pension plans: sales force and financial literacy factors," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 532-547, October.
    18. Benjamin Handel & Joshua Schwartzstein, 2018. "Frictions or Mental Gaps: What's Behind the Information We (Don't) Use and When Do We Care?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 155-178, Winter.
    19. Serafin J. Grundl & You Suk Kim, 2017. "Consumer Mistakes and Advertising : The Case of Mortgage Refinancing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-067, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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