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Price versus Quantity: Market Clearing Mechanisms When Sellers Differ in Quality

  • Andrew Metrick
  • Richard Zeckhauser

High-quality producers in a vertically differentiated market can reap superior profits by charging higher prices, selling greater quantities, or both. If qualities are known by consumers and production costs are constant, then having a higher quality secures the producer both higher price and higher quantity; if marginal costs are rising, having a higher quality assures only higher price. If only some consumers can discern quality but others cannot, then high- and low-quality producers may set a common price, but the high-quality producer will sell more. In this context, quality begets quantity. Empirical analyses suggest that in both the mutual fund and automobile industries, high-quality producers sell more units than their low-quality competitors, but at no higher price (or markup) per unit.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5728.

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Date of creation: Aug 1996
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Publication status: published as Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Vol. 17, no. 3 (December 1998): 215-243.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5728
Note: IO
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  1. Boom, Anette, 1995. "Asymmetric International Minimum Quality Standards and Vertical Differentiation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 101-19, March.
  2. Chevalier, J. & Ellison, G., 1996. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," Working papers 96-3, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
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  8. Hackner, Jonas, 1994. "Collusive pricing in markets for vertically differentiated products," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 155-177, June.
  9. Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
  10. Brown, Keith C & Harlow, W V & Starks, Laura T, 1996. " Of Tournaments and Temptations: An Analysis of Managerial Incentives in the Mutual Fund Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(1), pages 85-110, March.
  11. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13, January.
  12. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-58, December.
  13. J. Jaskold Gabszewicz & Avner Shaked & John Sutton & J.F. Thisse, 1981. "Price Competition Among Differentiated Products: A Detailed Study of a Nash Equilibrium," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series 37, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  14. Sutton, John, 1986. "Vertical Product Differentiation: Some Basic Themes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 393-98, May.
  15. Rosenkranz, Stephanie, 1995. "Innovation and cooperation under vertical product differentiation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-22, March.
  16. Hendricks, Darryll & Patel, Jayendu & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1993. " Hot Hands in Mutual Funds: Short-Run Persistence of Relative Performance, 1974-1988," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(1), pages 93-130, March.
  17. Tufano, Peter, 1989. "Financial innovation and first-mover advantages," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 213-240, December.
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