IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Local Competition, Product Substitutability, and Prices: An Empirical Test


  • Chad Syverson


In markets where spatial competition is important, theory predicts increases in producer density (the number of producers per unit area in the local market) should lead to lower average prices. When producers are heterogeneous, this link exists for two reasons. First, the greater product substitutability in denser markets makes it more difficult for high-cost producers to profitably operate because customers can more easily switch to lower-cost producers. This leads to a greater selection of lower-cost producers in dense markets, as the cost distribution is truncated from above. Holding markups constant, this would imply lower prices in such markets. However, the second effect implies that optimal markets should fall in demand density. The greater substitution possibilities in dense markets make firms’ residual demand curves more elastic. The combination of greater selection of low-cost producers and smaller markups imply that average (and maximum) prices should be lower in dense markets. I test and find support for these implications using data from U.S. ready-mixed concrete plants. Markets with (arguably exogenous) high demand density levels have lower average and maximum prices. I also show that these findings do not simply result from lower factor prices in dense markets, but rather because dense-market producers are low-cost because they are more efficient

Suggested Citation

  • Chad Syverson, 2004. "Local Competition, Product Substitutability, and Prices: An Empirical Test," 2004 Meeting Papers 95, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:95

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rosenthal, Robert W., 1988. "Anonymous sequential games," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 77-87, February.
    2. Boyan Jovanovic & Peter L. Rousseau, 2001. "Why Wait? A Century of Life before IPO," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 336-341, May.
    3. Jovanovic, Boyan & MacDonald, Glenn M, 1994. "The Life Cycle of a Competitive Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 322-347, April.
    4. Michael Gort, 1962. "Diversification and Integration in American Industry," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gort62-1, January.
    5. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2003. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 281-315.
    6. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, January.
    7. Pastor, Lubos & Veronesi, Pietro, 2006. "Was there a Nasdaq bubble in the late 1990s?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 61-100, July.
    8. Pakes, Ariel & Schankerman, Mark A., 1978. "The Rate of Obsolescence of Knowledge, Research Gestation Labs, and the Private Rate of Return to Research Resources," Working Papers 78-13, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    9. Mariana Mazzucato, 2002. "The PC Industry: New Economy or Early Life-Cycle?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(2), pages 318-345, April.
    10. David Dranove & David Meltzer, 1994. "Do Important Drugs Reach the Market Sooner?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(3), pages 402-423, Autumn.
    11. Evans, David S, 1987. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 657-674, August.
    12. Lubos Pástor & Pietro Veronesi, 2005. "Rational IPO Waves," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(4), pages 1713-1757, August.
    13. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Spatial Differentiation; Productivity; Price and Markup Dispersion;

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L6 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed004:95. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.