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Market Frictions: A Unified Model of Search and Switching Costs


  • Wilson, Chris M


Despite the existence of two vast literatures, very little is known about the potential differences or interactions between search and switching costs. This paper demonstrates the benefits of examining the two frictions in unison. First, the paper shows how subtle distinctions between the two costs can provide important differences in their effects upon consumer behaviour and market prices. In many cases, policymakers may prefer to reduce search costs rather than switching costs. Second, the paper illustrates a simple methodology for estimating the magnitude of both costs while demonstrating the potential bias that can arise from a single-cost approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilson, Chris M, 2009. "Market Frictions: A Unified Model of Search and Switching Costs," MPRA Paper 13672, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:13672

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Waterson, Michael, 2003. "The role of consumers in competition and competition policy," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 129-150, February.
    8. Simon P. Anderson & Regis Renault, 1999. "Pricing, Product Diversity, and Search Costs: A Bertrand-Chamberlin-Diamond Model," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(4), pages 719-735, Winter.
    9. Cabral, Luís M B, 2012. "Switching Costs and Equilibrium Prices," CEPR Discussion Papers 8970, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Farrell, Joseph & Klemperer, Paul, 2007. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
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    12. Christou, C. & Vettas, N., 2008. "On informative advertising and product differentiation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 92-112, January.
    13. Padilla, A. Jorge, 1992. "Mixed pricing in oligopoly with consumer switching costs," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 393-411, September.
    14. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2006. "Information, Search, and Price Dispersion," Working Papers 2006-11, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    15. Ali Hortaçsu & Chad Syverson, 2004. "Product Differentiation, Search Costs, and Competition in the Mutual Fund Industry: A Case Study of S&P 500 Index Funds," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 403-456.
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    17. Babur De los Santos, 2008. "Consumer Search on the Internet," Working Papers 08-15, NET Institute, revised Sep 2008.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabien Tripier, 2014. "A Search-Theoretic Approach to Efficient Financial Intermediation," Working Papers 2014-18, CEPII research center.
    2. Daniel Garcia & Jun Honda & Maarten Janssen, 2017. "The Double Diamond Paradox," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 63-99, August.
    3. Wilson, Chris M. & Garrod, Luke & Munro, Alistair, 2013. "Default effects, transaction costs, and imperfect information," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 119(2), pages 213-215.
    4. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Failing to Choose the Best Price: Theory, Evidence, and Policy," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 303-340, November.
    5. Wilson, Chris M., 2016. "Information Matters: A Theoretical Comparison of Some Cross-Border Trade Barriers," EconStor Preprints 130180, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    6. Chris M Wilson, 2015. "Information Matters: Comparing Some Theoretical Determinants of Border Effects in Trade," Discussion Paper Series 2015_02, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Feb 2015.
    7. Yves Ortiz, 2011. "Prices and Choices in the Swiss Health Care Insurance Market," Working Papers 11.09, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.

    More about this item


    Search costs; Switching Costs; Market Friction;

    JEL classification:

    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General

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