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Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Search Costs

Author

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  • Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez

    (University of Groningen)

  • Matthijs R. Wildenbeest

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

In a recent paper Hong and Shum [2006. Using price distributions to estimate search costs. Rand Journal of Economics 37, 257–275] present a structural method to estimate search cost distributions. We extend their approach to the case of oligopoly and present a new maximum likelihood method to estimate search costs. We apply our method to a data set of online prices for different computer memory chips. The estimates suggest that the consumer population can be roughly split into two groups which either have quite high or quite low search costs. Search frictions confer a significant amount of market power to the firms: Despite more than 20 firms operating in each of the markets, we estimate price-cost margins to be around 25%. The paper also illustrates how the structural method can be employed to simulate the effects of the introduction of a sales tax. This discussion paper has resulted in a publication in the European Economic Review , 2008, 52(5), 820-48.

Suggested Citation

  • Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 0000. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Search Costs," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 06-019/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20060019
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    consumer search; oligopoly; price dispersion; structural estimation; maximum likelihood;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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