Sequential Search with Incompletely Informed Consumers: Theory and Evidence from Retail Gasoline Markets
A large variety of markets, such as retail markets for gasoline or mortgage markets, are characterized by a small number of firms offering a fairly homogenous product at virtually the same cost, while consumers, being uninformed about this cost, sequentially search for low prices. The present paper provides a theoretical examination of this type of market, and confronts the theory with data on retail gasoline prices. We develop a sequential search model with incomplete information and characterize a perfect Bayesian equilibrium in which consumers follow simple reservation price strategies. Firms strategically exploit consumers being uninformed about their production cost, and set on average higher prices compared to the standard complete information model. Thus, consumer welfare is lower. Using data on the gasoline retail market in Vienna (Austria), we further argue that incomplete information is a necessary feature to explain observed gasoline prices within a sequential search framework.
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.:
- Kohn, Meir G. & Shavell, Steven, 1974. "The theory of search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 93-123, October.
- Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2004.
"Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet,"
NBER Working Papers
10570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Glenn Ellison & Sara Fisher Ellison, 2009. "Search, Obfuscation, and Price Elasticities on the Internet," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 427-452, 03.
- Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
- Fershtman, C. & Fishman, A., 1989.
"Price Cycles And Booms Dynamic Search Equilibrium,"
8922, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
- Fershtman, Chaim & Fishman, Arthur, 1992. "Price Cycles and Booms: Dynamic Search Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1221-1233, December.
- Fershtman, C. & Fishman, A., 1989. "Price Cycles And Booms: Dynamic Search Equilibrium," Papers 1-89, Tel Aviv.
- Alex Gershkov & Benny Moldovanu, 2010.
"Optimal Search, Learning and Implementation,"
Discussion Paper Series
dp543, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
- Matthew S. Lewis, 2011.
"Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market,"
Journal of Economics & Management Strategy,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(2), pages 409-449, 06.
- Matt Lewis, 2004. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market," Industrial Organization 0407010, EconWPA.
- Lewis, Matt, 2004. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment and Consumer Search: An Examination of the Retail Gasoline Market," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt9pv2d9fn, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Ambarish Chandra & Mariano Tappata, 2011. "Consumer search and dynamic price dispersion: an application to gasoline markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(4), pages 681-704, December.
- Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
- Glenn Ellison & Alexander Wolitzky, 2012.
"A search cost model of obfuscation,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
RAND Corporation, vol. 43(3), pages 417-441, 09.
- Maarten C.W. Janssen & Alexei Parakhonyak, 2007. "Optimal Search with Costly Recall," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-002/1, Tinbergen Institute.
- Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1979.
"A Simple Model of Equilibrium Price Dispersion,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 851-858, August.
- Spiegler, Ran, 2006.
"Competition over agents with boundedly rational expectations,"
Econometric Society, vol. 1(2), pages 207-231, June.
- Ran Spiegler, 2005. "Competition over Agents with Boundedly Rational Expectations," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000535, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Dana, J.D., 1991.
"Learning in an Equilibrium Search Model,"
37, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
- Moraga-González, José Luis & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2008.
"Maximum likelihood estimation of search costs,"
European Economic Review,
Elsevier, vol. 52(5), pages 820-848, July.
- Armstrong, Mark & Vickers, John & Zhou, Jidong, 2008.
"Consumer protection and the incentive to become informed,"
9898, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Mark Armstrong & John Vickers & Jidong Zhou, 2009. "Consumer Protection and the Incentive to Become Informed," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 399-410, 04-05.
- Janssen, Maarten C.W. & Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose Luis & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2005. "Truly costly sequential search and oligopolistic pricing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(5-6), pages 451-466, June.
- Saul Lach, 2007.
"Immigration and Prices,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(4), pages 548-587, 08.
- Matthew Lewis, 2008. "PRICE DISPERSION AND COMPETITION WITH DIFFERENTIATED SELLERS -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 654-678, 09.
- Michael R. Baye & John Morgan & Patrick Scholten, 2006. "Information, Search, and Price Dispersion," Working Papers 2006-11, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
- Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Searching for the Lowest Price When the Distribution of Prices Is Unknown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 689-711, July/Aug..
- Justine S. Hastings, 2004. "Vertical Relationships and Competition in Retail Gasoline Markets: Empirical Evidence from Contract Changes in Southern California," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 317-328, March.
- Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-659, September.
- Stahl, Dale O, II, 1989. "Oligopolistic Pricing with Sequential Consumer Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 700-712, September.
- Hosken, Daniel S. & McMillan, Robert S. & Taylor, Christopher T., 2008. "Retail gasoline pricing: What do we know?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1425-1436, November.
- Arthur Fishman, 1996. "Search with Learning and Price Adjustment Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 253-268.
- Mariano Tappata, 2009. "Rockets and feathers: Understanding asymmetric pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 673-687.
- Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:0914. 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: (Paper Administrator)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.