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

  • Justine S. Hastings
  • Ali Hortaçsu
  • Chad Syverson

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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18881.

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Date of creation: Mar 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18881
Note: AG IO PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2006. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," NBER Working Papers 12261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Justine S. Hastings & Brigitte C. Madrian & William L. Skimmyhorn, 2012. "Financial Literacy, Financial Education and Economic Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 18412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ioana Chioveanu, 2005. "Advertising, Brand Loyalty and Pricing," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 639.05, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
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  6. Bagwell, Kyle, 2007. "The Economic Analysis of Advertising," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
  7. Justine S. Hastings & Lydia Tejeda-Ashton, 2008. "Financial Literacy, Information, and Demand Elasticity: Survey and Experimental Evidence from Mexico," NBER Working Papers 14538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Michael D. Grubb & Matthew Osborne, 2012. "Cellular Service Demand: Biased Beliefs, Learning, and Bill Shock," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 829, Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2007. "Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans," NBER Working Papers 13627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Jeffrey Milyo & Joel Waldfogel, 1998. "The Effect of Price Advertising on Prices: Evidence in the Wake of 44 Liquormart," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9807, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  14. Stango, Victor, 2003. "Strategic Responses to Regulatory Threat in the Credit Card Market," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 427-52, October.
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  18. Benham, Lee, 1972. "The Effect of Advertising on the Price of Eyeglasses," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 337-52, October.
  19. Fabian Duarte & Justine S. Hastings, 2012. "Fettered Consumers and Sophisticated Firms: Evidence from Mexico's Privatized Social Security Market," NBER Working Papers 18582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Martin Feldstein, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 33-55, Spring.
  21. Feldstein, Martin, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Scholarly Articles 2794830, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  22. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1993. "A Simple Theory of Advertising as a Good or Bad," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 941-64, November.
  23. Butters, Gerard R, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 465-91, October.
  24. Jason Abaluck & Jonathan Gruber, 2011. "Choice Inconsistencies among the Elderly: Evidence from Plan Choice in the Medicare Part D Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1180-1210, June.
  25. Ali Hortaç Su & Chad Syverson, 2004. "Product Differentiation, Search Costs, And Competition in the Mutual Fund Industry: A Case Study of S&P 500 Index Funds," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 403-456, May.
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