Product Differentiation, Search Costs, and Competition in the Mutual Fund Industry: A Case Study of the S&P 500 Index Funds
Two salient features of the competitive structure of the U.S. mutual fund industry are the large number of funds and the sizeable dispersion in the fees funds charge investors, even within narrow asset classes. Portfolio financial performance differences alone do not seem able to fully explain these features. We investigate whether non-portfolio fund differentiation and information/search frictions also play a role in creating these observed industry characteristics. We focus on their impact in a case study of the retail S&P 500 index funds sector. We find that fund proliferation and price dispersion also exist in this sector, despite the funds' financial homogeneity. Furthermore, there was a marked shift in sector assets to more expensive (often newly entered) funds throughout our sample period. Our analysis indicates that these observations are consistent with the presence of both non-portfolio differentiation and information/search frictions. Structural estimation of a novel search-over-differentiated-products model reveals that reasonable magnitudes of investor search costs can explain the considerable price dispersion in the sector, and consumers seem to value funds'' observable attributes such as fund age and the number of other funds in the same fund family in largely plausible ways. The results also suggest that the substantial increase in mutual fund market participation observed during our sample, and the corresponding purchase decisions of novice investors, drove the shift in assets toward more expensive funds. We also find evidence consistent with the presence of switching costs, as distinct from search costs. Using structural estimates of demand parameters and search costs, we investigate the possibility that there are too many sector funds from a social welfare standpoint. The results of this exercise indicate that restricting entry would yield nontrivial gains from reduced search costs and productivity gains from scale economies, but these may be counterbalanced by losses from increased market power and reduced product variety.
|Date of creation:||May 2003|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Hortacsu, Ali and Chad Syverson. “Product Differentiation, Search Costs, and the Welfare Effects of Entry: A Case Study of S&P 500 Index Funds." Quarterly Journal of Economics 119 (May 2004): 403-456.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975.
"Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity,"
The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS)
64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
- Small, Kenneth A & Rosen, Harvey S, 1981.
"Applied Welfare Economics with Discrete Choice Models,"
Econometric Society, vol. 49(1), pages 105-30, January.
- Harvey S. Rosen & Kenneth A. Small, 1979. "Applied Welfare Economics with Discrete Choice Models," NBER Working Papers 0319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Carhart, Mark M, 1997. " On Persistence in Mutual Fund Performance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 57-82, March.
- Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-69, July.
- Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
- Chevalier, Judith & Ellison, Glenn, 1997.
"Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1167-1200, December.
- Judith A. Chevalier & Glenn D. Ellison, 1995. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," NBER Working Papers 5234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Matthew Spiegel & Harry Mamaysky, 2001. "A Theory of Mutual Funds: Optimal Fund Objectives and Industry Organization," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2507, Yale School of Management.
- Erik R. Sirri & Peter Tufano, 1998. "Costly Search and Mutual Fund Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1589-1622, October.
- Matthew I. Spiegel & Harry Mamaysky, 2001. "A Theory of Mutual Funds: Optimal Fund Objectives and Industry Organization," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm219, Yale School of Management.
- Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
- repec:oup:restud:v:56:y:1989:i:3:p:405-20 is not listed on IDEAS
- Judith Chevalier & Glenn Ellison, 1999. "Career Concerns of Mutual Fund Managers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 389-432.
- Falkenstein, Eric G, 1996. " Preferences for Stock Characteristics as Revealed by Mutual Fund Portfolio Holdings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(1), pages 111-35, March.
- N. Gregory Mankiw & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 48-58, Spring.
- Paul Klemperer, 1989. "Price Wars Caused by Switching Costs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 405-420.
- 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.
- C.J. Krizan & John Haltiwanger & Lucia Foster, 2002.
"The Link Between Aggregate and Micro Productivity Growth: Evidence from Retail Trade,"
02-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 2002. "The Link Between Aggregate and Micro Productivity Growth: Evidence from Retail Trade," NBER Working Papers 9120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James J. Heckman & Christopher J. Flinn, 1982.
"New Methods for Analyzing Structural Models of Labor Force Dynamics,"
NBER Working Papers
0856, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Flinn, C. & Heckman, J., 1982. "New methods for analyzing structural models of labor force dynamics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 115-168, January.
- Amil Petrin, 2002. "Quantifying the Benefits of New Products: The Case of the Minivan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 705-729, August.
- Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "Competition and the Number of Firms in a Market: Are Duopolies More Competitive than Atomistic Markets?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1041-61, October.
- Khorana, Ajay & Servaes, Henri, 1999. "The Determinants of Mutual Fund Starts," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(5), pages 1043-74.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9728. 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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.