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How Does Income Inequality Affect Market Outcomes in Vertically Differentiated Markets?

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  • Yurko, Anna

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Yurko, Anna, 2006. "How Does Income Inequality Affect Market Outcomes in Vertically Differentiated Markets?," MPRA Paper 4028, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jul 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4028
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Corrado Benassi & Marcella Scrimitore, 2017. "Income Distribution in Network Markets," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 251-271, September.
    3. C. Benassi & A. Chirco & C. Colombo, 2015. "Beyond the Uniform Distribution: Equilibrium Prices and Qualities in a Vertically Differentiated Duopoly," Working Papers wp1044, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    4. Barigozzi, Francesca & Ma, Ching-to Albert, 2018. "Product differentiation with multiple qualities," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 380-412.
    5. Lisandra Flach & Eckhard Janeba, 2017. "Income inequality and export prices across countries," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 50(1), pages 162-200, February.
    6. Laine, Liisa T. & Ma, Ching-to Albert, 2017. "Quality and competition between public and private firms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 336-353.
    7. Francesco Angelini & Corrado Benassi & Massimiliano Castellani, 2021. "Platform competition and willingness to pay in a vertical differentiated two-sided market," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 41(2), pages 772-780.
    8. Liu, Ting & Albert Ma, Ching-to & Mak, Henry Y., 2018. "Incentives for motivated experts in a partnership," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 296-313.
    9. Ngo Van Long & Zhuang Miao, 2020. "Multiple‐quality Cournot oligopoly and the role of market size," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 932-952, October.
    10. Dieter Pennerstorfer & Nora Schindler & Christoph Weiss & Biliana Yontcheva, 2020. "Income Inequality and Product Variety: Empirical Evidence," Economics working papers 2020-17, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    11. Osharin Alexander & Verbus Valery, 2015. "Heterogeneous consumers and market structure in a monopolistically competitive setting," EERC Working Paper Series 15/03e, EERC Research Network, Russia and CIS.
    12. Miao, Zhuang & Li, Yifan & Duan, Sisong, 2020. "Income inequality of destination countries and trade patterns: Evidence from Chinese firm-level data," MPRA Paper 99441, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Janko Hernández Cortés & Paolo Morganti, 2022. "Existence and uniqueness of price equilibria in location-based models of differentiation with full coverage," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 136(2), pages 115-148, July.
    14. Garella, Paolo G. & Lambertini, Luca, 2014. "Bidimensional vertical differentiation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 1-10.
    15. Corrado Benassi & Alessandra Chirco & Caterina Colombo, 2019. "Vertical differentiation beyond the uniform distribution," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 221-248, April.
    16. Namrata Gulati & Prabal Roy Chowdhury, 2010. "Income inequality, neighbourhood effects and product quality," Discussion Papers 10-06, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
    17. Miao, Zhuang, 2019. "Income Distribution, Vertical Differentiation, and the Quantity Competition," MPRA Paper 95104, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    vertical differentiation; income inequality; computational game theory;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms

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