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Unobserved Product Differentiation in Discrete Choice Models: Estimating Price Elasticities and Welfare Effects

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  • Daniel A. Ackerberg
  • Marc Rysman

Abstract

Standard discrete choice models such as logit, nested logit, and random coefficients models place very strong restrictions on how unobservable product space increases with the number of products. We argue (and show with Monte Carlo experiments) that these restrictions can lead to biased conclusions regarding price elasticities and welfare consequences from additional products. In addition, these restrictions can identify parameters which are not intuitively identified given the data at hand. We suggest two alternative models that relax these restrictions, both motivated by structural interpretations. Monte-Carlo experiments and an application to data show that these alternative models perform well in practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel A. Ackerberg & Marc Rysman, 2002. "Unobserved Product Differentiation in Discrete Choice Models: Estimating Price Elasticities and Welfare Effects," NBER Working Papers 8798, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8798
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert C. Feenstra & James A. Levinsohn, 1995. "Estimating Markups and Market Conduct with Multidimensional Product Attributes," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 19-52.
    2. Nevo, Aviv, 2001. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 307-342, March.
    3. Patrick Bajari & C. Lanier Benkard, 2001. "Demand Estimation With Heterogeneous Consumers and Unobserved Product Characteristics: A Hedonic Approach," NBER Technical Working Papers 0272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Marc Rysman, 2004. "Competition Between Networks: A Study of the Market for Yellow Pages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 483-512.
    5. Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 1999. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency in Radio Broadcasting," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(3), pages 397-420, Autumn.
    6. Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
    7. Cardell, N. Scott, 1997. "Variance Components Structures for the Extreme-Value and Logistic Distributions with Application to Models of Heterogeneity," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(02), pages 185-213, April.
    8. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-890, July.
    9. Benkard, C. Lanier & Bajari, Patrick, 2001. "Demand Estimation with Heterogeneous Consumers and Unobserved Product Characteristics: A Hedonic Approach," Research Papers 1691, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    10. Patrick Bajari & C. Lanier Benkard, 2001. "Demand Estimation With Heterogeneous Consumers and Unobserved Product Characteristics: A Hedonic Approach," Working Papers 01010, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities

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