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Stiff Competition: Vertical Relationships in Cremation Services

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  • Lori Parcel

    () (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

Abstract

I examine the relationship between retail market competition and wholesale contracting patterns, by analyzing subcontracting behavior of funeral homes (retailers) and crematories (wholesalers) in the Minnesota funeral industry. Exploiting detailed data on wholesale and retail quantities, subcontracting patterns, consumer and establishment locations, and retail pricing, I estimate a model that predicts pricing, consumer funeral home choice, and vertical relationships between funeral homes and crematories. I find that funeral homes seeking wholesale cremation services are significantly less likely to subcontract with crematories belonging to firms that are direct retail market competitors. The estimated aversion to subcontracting with competitors is greater for funeral homes with fewer proximate crematories. This is consistent with foreclosure by integrated crematories. Counterfactual analysis indicates that funeral homes with few crematories nearby (that are owned by retail competitors) bear additional costs ranging from $161 to $203 per body on average, or seven to nine percent of the retail price. Half of this cost impact is transmitted to consumers, resulting in a four percent retail price increase in these markets on average.

Suggested Citation

  • Lori Parcel, 2008. "Stiff Competition: Vertical Relationships in Cremation Services," Discussion Papers 07-041, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:07-041
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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/07-041.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Katherine Ho, 2009. "Insurer-Provider Networks in the Medical Care Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 393-430, March.
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    7. Justine S. Hastings & Richard J. Gilbert, 2005. "MARKET POWER, VERTICAL INTEGRATION AND THE WHOLESALE PRICE OF GASOLINE -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 469-492, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thierry Blayac & Patrice Bougette & Christian Montet, 2014. "How consumer information curtails market power in the funeral industry," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 421-437, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Vertical integration; competitive market; retail market; wholsesale market;

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General

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