How Does Income Inequality Affect Market Outcomes in Vertically Differentiated Markets?
The distribution of consumer incomes is a key factor in determining the structure of a vertically differentiated industry when consumer's willingness to pay depends on his income. This paper computes the Shaked and Sutton (1982) model for a general specification of consumers' income distribution to investigate the effect of inequality on firms' entry, product quality, and pricing decisions. The main findings are that greater inequality in consumer incomes leads to the entry of more firms and results in more intense quality competition among the entrants. This is due to the elasticity of consumer demand for quality being higher in more inegalitarian economies. More intense quality competition among firms causes them to locate their products in higher ranges of the quality spectrum, closer to each other, decreasing the degree of product differentiation. Competition between more similar products tends to reduce their prices. However, when income inequality is very high, the top quality producer chooses to serve only the rich segment of the market, and the low price elasticity of demand of these consumers allows him to charge a higher price. The conclusion is that income inequality has important implications for the degree of product differentiation, price level, industry concentration, and consumer welfare.
|Date of creation:||May 2006|
|Date of revision:||Jul 2007|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany|
Web page: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
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.:
- De Fraja, Giovanni, 1996. "Product line competition in vertically differentiated markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 389-414, May.
- Justin P. Johnson & David P. Myatt, 2003.
"Multiproduct Quality Competition: Fighting Brands and Product Line Pruning,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 748-774, June.
- David P. Myatt & Justin P. Johnson, 2002. "Multiproduct Quality Competition: Fighting Brands and Product Line Pruning," Economics Series Working Papers 105, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
- Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "Does Consumption Inequality Track Income Inequality in Italy?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 133-153, January.
- Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2009. "Does Consumption Inequality Track Income Inequality in Italy?," CSEF Working Papers 229, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
- Ulrich Lehmann-Grube, 1997. "Strategic Choice of Quality When Quality is Costly: The Persistence of the High-Quality Advantage," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(2), pages 372-384, Summer.
- Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1987. "Product Differentiation and Industrial Structure," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 131-146, December.
- A. B. Atkinson, 2003. "Income Inequality in OECD Countries: Data and Explanations," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 49(4), pages 479-513.
- Anthony C. Atkinson, 2003. "Income Inequality in OECD Countries: Data and Explanations," CESifo Working Paper Series 881, CESifo Group Munich.
- Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
- Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
- Koen Caminada & Kees Goudswaard, 2001. "International Trends in Income Inequality and Social Policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(4), pages 395-415, August.
- Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 2001. "International trends in income inequality and social policy," MPRA Paper 20181, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Aoki, Reiko & Prusa, Thomas J., 1997. "Sequential versus simultaneous choice with endogenous quality," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 103-121, February.
- Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1980. "Entry (and exit) in a differentiated industry," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 327-338, April.
- GABSZEWICZ, Jean J. & THISSE, Jacques-François, "undated". "Entry (and exit) in a differentiated industry," CORE Discussion Papers RP 400, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 163-193.
- Dorfman, Robert, 1979. "A Formula for the Gini Coefficient," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(1), pages 146-149, February.
- Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
- GABSZEWICZ, Jean J. & THISSE, Jacques-François, "undated". "Price competition, quality and income disparities," CORE Discussion Papers RP 370, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
- Corrado Benassi & Alessandra Chirco & Caterina Colombo, 2006. "Vertical Differentiation And The Distribution Of Income," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 345-367, October.
- Steven Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 2003. "Product Quality and Market Size," NBER Working Papers 9675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Berry, Steven & Waldfogel, Joel, 2005. "Product Quality and Market Size," Working Papers 1, Yale University, Department of Economics.
- Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2009. "Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 15433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1983. "Natural Oligopolies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1469-1483, September. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)