IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Output Price and Markup Dispersion in Micro Data: The Roles of Producer Heterogeneity and Noise

  • Mark J. Roberts
  • Dylan Supina

This paper provides empirical evidence on the extent of producer heterogeneity in the output market by analyzing output price and price-marginal cost markups at the plant level for thirteen homogenous manufactured goods. It relies on micro data from the U.S. Census of Manufactures over the 1963-1987 period. The amount of price heterogeneity varies substantially across products. Over time, plant transition patterns indicate more persistence in the pricing of individual plants than would be generated by purely random movements. High-price and low-price plants remain in the same part of the price distribution with high frequency, suggesting that underlying time-invariant structural factors contribute to the price dispersion. For all but two products, large producers have lower output prices. Marginal cost and the markups are estimated for each plant. The markup remains unchanged or increases with plant size for all but four of the products and declining marginal costs play an important role in generating this pattern. The lower production costs for large producers are, at least partially, passed on to purchasers as lower output prices. Plants with the highest and lowest markups tend to remain so over time, although overall the persistence in markups is less than for output price, suggesting a larger role for idiosyncratic shocks in generating markup variation.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6075.

in new window

Date of creation: Jun 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Advances in Applied Microeconomics, Vol. 9, Industrial Organization, Baye, Michael, ed., JAI Publishers, 2000.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6075
Note: IO
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. George S Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics Of Productivity In The Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Working Papers 92-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Fishman, Arthur & Rob, Rafael, 1995. "The Durability of Information, Market Efficiency and the Size of Firms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(1), pages 19-36, February.
  3. Mueller,Dennis C., 2009. "Profits in the Long Run," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521101592, September.
  4. Klette, Tor Jakob & Griliches, Zvi, 1996. "The Inconsistency of Common Scale Estimators When Output Prices Are Unobserved and Endogenous," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 343-61, July-Aug..
  5. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1992. "The Behavior of Prices and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis of Disaggregated Price Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 349-89, April.
  6. Deaton, Angus, 1989. "Rice Prices and Income Distribution in Thailand: A Non-parametric Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(395), pages 1-37, Supplemen.
  7. Van Hoomissen, Theresa, 1988. "Price Dispersion and Inflation: Evidence from Israel," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1303-14, December.
  8. Roberts, Mark J. & Supina, Dylan, 1996. "Output price, markups, and producer size," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 909-921, April.
  9. Peltzman, Sam, 1977. "The Gains and Losses from Industrial Concentration," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 229-63, October.
  10. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  11. R. E. Caves & M. E. Porter, 1977. "From Entry Barriers to Mobility Barriers: Conjectural Decisions and Contrived Deterrence to New Competition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 91(2), pages 241-261.
  12. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, December.
  13. John W. Pratt & David A. Wise & Richard Zeckhauser, 1979. "Price Differences in almost Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 189-211.
  14. Carlson, John A & McAfee, R Preston, 1983. "Discrete Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 480-93, June.
  15. Demsetz, Harold, 1973. "Industry Structure, Market Rivalry, and Public Policy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-9, April.
  16. Timothy Dunne & Mark J Roberts, 1992. "Costs, Demand, and Imperfect Competition as Determinants of Plant_level Output Prices," Working Papers 92-5, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  17. Timothy Dunne, 1994. "Plant Age and Technology Use in US. Manufacturing Industries," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(3), pages 488-499, Autumn.
  18. Lambson, V.E., 1989. "Industry Evolution With Sunk Costs And Uncertian Market Conditions," Working papers 8904, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  19. Griliches, Zvi, 1986. "Economic data issues," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 25, pages 1465-1514 Elsevier.
  20. Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1978. "A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Discussion Papers 335, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  21. Shepard, Andrea, 1991. "Price Discrimination and Retail Configuration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 30-53, February.
  22. George J. Stigler & James K. Kindahl, 1970. "The Behavior of Industrial Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stig70-1, September.
  23. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213.
  24. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  25. Dahlby, Bev & West, Douglas S, 1986. "Price Dispersion in an Automobile Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 418-38, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6075. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.