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Consumer Information and Price Discrimination: Does the Internet Affect the Pricing of New Cars to Women and Minorities?

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  • Fiona Scott Morton
  • Florian Zettelmeyer
  • Jorge Silva-Risso

Abstract

Mediating transactions through the Internet removes important cues that salespeople can use to assess a consumer's willingness to pay. We analyze whether dealers' difficulty in identifying consumer characteristics on the Internet and consumers' ease in finding information affects equilibrium prices in car retailing. Using a large dataset of transaction prices for new automobiles, the first part of the paper an- alyzes the relationship between car prices and demographics. We find that offline African-American and Hispanic consumers pay approximately 2% more than other consumers, however, we can explain 65% of this price premium with differences in income, education,a nd search costs; we find no evidence of statistical race discrimination. The second part of the paper turns to the role of the Internet. Online minority buyers who use the Internet Referral Service we study, Autobytel.com, pay nearly the same prices as do whites, irrespective of their income, education, and search costs. Since members of minority groups who use the Internet may not be representative, we control for selection. We conclude that the Internet is disproportionately beneficial to those who have personal characteristics that put them at a disadvantage in negotiating. African-American and Hispanic individuals, who are least likely to use the Internet, are the ones who benefit the most from it.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiona Scott Morton & Florian Zettelmeyer & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Consumer Information and Price Discrimination: Does the Internet Affect the Pricing of New Cars to Women and Minorities?," NBER Working Papers 8668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8668 Note: IO
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510.
    2. Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-321, June.
    3. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1996. "Dealer Price Discrimination in New Car Purchases: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 622-654, June.
    4. Florian Zettelmeyer & Fiona Scott Morton & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Cowboys or Cowards: Why are Internet Car Prices Lower?," NBER Working Papers 8667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    6. Fiona Scott Morton & Florian Zettelmeyer & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," NBER Chapters,in: E-commerce, pages 501-519 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Florian Zettelmeyer & Fiona M. Scott Morton & Jorge Silva-Risso, 2001. "Cowboys or Cowards: Why are Internet Car Prices Lower?," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm241, Yale School of Management.
    8. Morton, Fiona Scott & Zettelmeyer, Florian & Silva-Risso, Jorge, 2001. "Internet Car Retailing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(4), pages 501-519, December.
    9. Hausman, Jerry A., 1983. "Specification and estimation of simultaneous equation models," Handbook of Econometrics,in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 391-448 Elsevier.
    10. Anat R. Admati & Motty Perry, 1987. "Strategic Delay in Bargaining," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 345-364.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kugler, Tamar & Neeman, Zvika & Vulkan, Nir, 2006. "Markets versus negotiations: An experimental investigation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 121-134, July.
    2. Hiroshi Ono & Madeline Zavodny, 2003. "Race, internet usage, and e-commerce," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, pages 7-22.
    3. Hans Degryse & Steven Ongena, 2005. "Distance, Lending Relationships, and Competition," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(1), pages 231-266, February.
    4. Kakar, Venoo & Franco, Julisa & Voelz, Joel & Wu, Julia, 2016. "Effects of Host Race Information on Airbnb Listing Prices in San Francisco," MPRA Paper 69974, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Barbara L. Wolfe & Robert H. Haveman, 2002. "Social and nonmarket benefits from education in an advanced economy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 97-142.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance

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