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Screening Consumers through Alternative Pricing Mechanisms

  • Eugenio J. Miravete

This paper addresses the optimal design of optional nonlinear tariffs. Two particular solutions commonly used in telecommunications and other industries are fully characterized. These optimal outlay schedules illustrate how the tariff design is altered when there exists a time lag between tariff choice and consumption. In this model consumers' uncertainty is resolved in the interim, between the tariff choice and the usage decision, through changes in their types. The paper studies whether the monopolist may profit from screening consumers according to different information sets, and it shows that expected profits are higher under an ex-post tariff if the variance of the ex-ante type distribution is large enough. The paper also shows that no results regarding social efficiency may be obtained in general. Welfare comparison of optional tariffs will be very sensitive to type distributions, how types enter demand specifications, and the relative variance of the type components.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1145.

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Date of creation: Dec 1995
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1145
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  1. repec:bla:restud:v:51:y:1984:i:2:p:305-19 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Calem, Paul S. & Spulber, Daniel F., 1984. "Multiproduct two part tariffs," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 105-115, June.
  3. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 1984. "Monopoly with Incomplete Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 171-196, Summer.
  4. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1994. "Supplying Information to Facilitate Price Discrimination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(2), pages 309-27, May.
  5. Lewis, Tracy R. & Sappington, David E. M., 1989. "Countervailing incentives in agency problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 294-313, December.
  6. Kridel, Donald J. & Lehman, Dale E. & Weisman, Dennis L., 1993. "Option value, telecommunications demand, and policy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 125-144, July.
  7. Clay, Karen B & Sibley, David S & Srinagesh, Padmanabhan, 1992. "Ex Post vs. Ex Ante Pricing: Optional Calling Plans and Tapered Tariffs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 115-38, June.
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