IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Does the Internet Make Markets More Competitive?

  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Austan Goolsbee

The Internet has the potential to significantly reduce search costs by allowing consumers to engage in low-cost price comparisons online. This paper provides empirical evidence on the impact that the rise of Internet comparison shopping sites has had for the prices of life insurance in the 1990s. Using micro data on individual life insurance policies, the results indicate that, controlling for individual and policy characteristics, a 10 percent increase in the share of individuals in a group using the Internet reduces average insurance prices for the group by as much as 5 percent. Further evidence indicates that prices did not fall with rising Internet usage for insurance types that were not covered by the comparison websites, nor did they in the period before the insurance sites came online. The results suggest that growth of the Internet has reduced term life prices by 8 to 15 percent and increased consumer surplus by $115-215 million per year and perhaps more. The results also show that the initial introduction of the Internet search sites is initially associated with an increase in price dispersion within demographic groups, but as the share of people using the technology rises further, dispersion falls.

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: http://www.nber.org/papers/w7996.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7996.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Nov 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Brown, Jeffrey R. and Austan Goolsbee. "Does The Internet Make Markets More Competitive? Evidence From The Life Insurance Industry," Journal of Political Economy, 2002, v110(3,Jun), 481-507.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7996
Note: AG IO PE
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: http://www.nber.org
Email:


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. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
  2. Goolsbee, Austan & Klenow, Peter J, 2002. "Evidence on Learning and Network Externalities in the Diffusion of Home Computers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 317-43, October.
  3. Adam Klauber, 2000. "Insurance on the Internet," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 3(1), pages 45-62, 03.
  4. J. Yannis Bakos, 1997. "Reducing Buyer Search Costs: Implications for Electronic Marketplaces," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(12), pages 1676-1692, December.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Alan T. Sorensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion in Retail Markets for Prescription Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 833-862, August.
  8. 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.
  9. Jeffrey R. Brown, 1999. "Are the Elderly Really Over-Annuitized? New Evidence on Life Insurance and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 7193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. George J. Stigler, 1961. "The Economics of Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 213.
  11. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
  12. 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.
  13. Kwoka, John E, Jr, 1984. "Advertising and the Price and Quality of Optometric Services," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 211-16, March.
  14. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  15. 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.
  16. Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
  17. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "In A World Without Borders: The Impact Of Taxes On Internet Commerce," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 561-576, May.
  18. Clay, Karen, et al, 2002. "Retail Strategies on the Web: Price and Non-price Competition in the Online Book Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 351-67, September.
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:7996. 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.