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Advertising and Competition in Privatized Social Security: The Case of Mexico

  • Justine S. Hastings
  • Ali Hortaçsu
  • Chad Syverson

This paper examines how advertising impacts 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 a model of fund manager choice, price and advertising competition (in terms of sales force deployment), nesting models of informative and persuasive advertising. We find evidence in favor of the persuasive view; exposure to sales force lowered price sensitivity and increased brand loyalty, 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
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18881
Note: AG IO PE
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  1. Joel Waldfogel & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "The Effect of Price Advertising on Prices: Evidence in the Wake of 44 Liquormart," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1081-1096, December.
  2. Chioveanu, Ioana, 2008. "Advertising, brand loyalty and pricing," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 68-80, September.
  3. 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.
  4. Glazer, Amihai & McMillan, Henry, 1992. "Pricing by the Firm under Regulatory Threat," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 1089-99, August.
  5. 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.
  6. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2005. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," NBER Working Papers 11755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Benjamin R. Handel, 2011. "Adverse Selection and Switching Costs in Health Insurance Markets: When Nudging Hurts," NBER Working Papers 17459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Bagwell, Kyle, 2007. "The Economic Analysis of Advertising," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
  11. 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.
  12. Eugenio J. Miravete, 2003. "Choosing the Wrong Calling Plan? Ignorance and Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 297-310, March.
  13. Feldstein, Martin, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Scholarly Articles 2794830, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. Victor Stango, 2002. "Strategic responses to regulatory threat in the credit card market," Working Paper Series WP-02-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  16. Michael D. Grubb & Matthew Osborne, 2015. "Cellular Service Demand: Biased Beliefs, Learning, and Bill Shock," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(1), pages 234-71, January.
  17. Martin Feldstein, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 33-55, Spring.
  18. Justine S. Hastings & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "How Financial Literacy and Impatience Shape Retirement Wealth and Investment Behaviors," NBER Working Papers 16740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Grossman, Gene M & Shapiro, Carl, 1984. "Informative Advertising with Differentiated Products," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 63-81, January.
  20. 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.
  21. Pradeep K. Chintagunta & Ramarao Desiraju, 2005. "Strategic Pricing and Detailing Behavior in International Markets," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(1), pages 67-80, June.
  22. Susan E. Woodward & Robert E. Hall, 2010. "Diagnosing Consumer Confusion and Sub-Optimal Shopping Effort: Theory and Mortgage-Market Evidence," NBER Working Papers 16007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. 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.
  24. Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2010. "Mind the Gap! Consumer Perceptions and Choices of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 413-481 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Butters, Gerard R, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 465-91, October.
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