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Competition and cost pass-through in differentiated oligopolies

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  • Zimmerman, Paul R.
  • Carlson, Julie A.

Abstract

The impact that competition exerts on the incentives of firms to pass through reductions in their marginal costs is an important consideration in assessing the performance of alternate market structures. This paper examines the role of product differentiation on firm-specific and industry-wide pass-through rates. Relying on Shubik’s (1980) model of differentiated Cournot competition with linear demand, we show that there exists an initial critical range over which the firm-specific cost pass-through rate decreases in the number of firms. Beyond this range the rate continually increases – approaching 50 percent as the number of firms goes to infinity. This contrasts with a model of differentiated Bertrand competition in which cost pass through monotonically decreases in the number of firms. The disparate effects across the Cournot and Bertrand models are shown to stem from the influence of competition and product differentiation on the respective firm reaction functions. Suggestions for future empirical work based upon the models’ predictions and implications for antitrust policy are also discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Zimmerman, Paul R. & Carlson, Julie A., 2010. "Competition and cost pass-through in differentiated oligopolies," MPRA Paper 25931, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:25931
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/25931/1/MPRA_paper_25931.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anderson, Simon P. & de Palma, Andre & Kreider, Brent, 2001. "Tax incidence in differentiated product oligopoly," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 173-192, August.
    2. Donghun Kim & Ronald W. Cotterill, 2008. "COST PASS-THROUGH IN DIFFERENTIATED PRODUCT MARKETS: THE CASE OF U.S. PROCESSED CHEESE -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 32-48, March.
    3. Dennis W. Carlton, 2007. "Does Antitrust Need to be Modernized?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 155-176, Summer.
    4. Philip Crooke & Luke Froeb & Steven Tschantz & Gregory Werden, 1999. "Effects of Assumed Demand Form on Simulated Postmerger Equilibria," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 15(3), pages 205-217, November.
    5. Theodore C. Bergstrom & Hal R. Varian, 1985. "When Are Nash Equilibria Independent of the Distribution of Agents' Characteristics?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 715-718.
    6. Kenneth Heyer, 2006. "Welfare Standards and Merger Analysis: Why not the Best?," EAG Discussions Papers 200608, Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
    7. Wang, X. Henry & Zhao, Jingang, 2007. "Welfare reductions from small cost reductions in differentiated oligopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 173-185, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. T.V.S. Ramamohan Rao, 2012. "Firm Specific Monopoly Power in Differentiated Oligopoly," Journal of Quantitative Economics, The Indian Econometric Society, vol. 10(1), pages 85-97, January.
    2. Takanori Adachi & Michal Fabinger, 2017. "Multi-Dimensional Pass-Through, Incidence, and the Welfare Burden of Taxation in Oligopoly," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1040, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    3. Häckner, Jonas & Herzing, Mathias, 2016. "Welfare effects of taxation in oligopolistic markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 141-166.
    4. Takanori Adachi & Muhammad Michal Fabinger, 2017. "Multi-Dimensional Pass-Through, Incidence, and the Welfare Burden of Taxation in Oligopoly," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1040, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    5. Koopmans, Carl & Lieshout, Rogier, 2016. "Airline cost changes: To what extent are they passed through to the passenger?," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1-11.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Competitive effects; Oligopoly; Merger; Pass-through; Product differentiation;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General

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