Essays on the Relationship of Competition and Firms' Price Responses
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This dissertation investigates the relationship of competition and firms' price responses, by analyzing: i) whether new entry reduces price discrimination, ii) when incumbents reduce price discrimination preemptively in response to the threat of entry, and iii) how competition increases prices. The dissertation consists of three independent essays addressing each of the above questions. The first two essays present an empirical analysis of the airline industry and the third essay presents a theoretical analysis of the credit card industry. In the empirical study of the relationship between competition and firms' pricing in the airline industry, I emphasize the importance of distinguishing the equilibrium behaviors with respect to different market characteristics. Major airlines can price discriminate differently in a market where they compete with low-cost carriers comparing to in another market where they don't, and also they can respond dfferently to the threat of entry depending on whether they are certain about the rival's future entry. The study reveals that competition has a positive effect on price discrimination in the routes where major airlines compete against one anther. In these routes, competition reduces lower-end prices to a greater extent than upper-end prices. In contrast, an entry by low-cost carriers results in a significant negative relationship between competition and price discrimination. Thus, the opposite results in the literature are both evident in the airline industry, and it is very important to identify the different forces of competition on price discrimination. Firms can respond to potential competition as well as actual competition. So, I extend the study to the relationship of potential competition and price discrimination, specially in cases where major airlines compete against one another while facing Southwest's threat of entry. I also attempt to suggest major airlines' motives of reducing price discrimination preemptively. The results of the study suggest that incumbents reduce price dispersion when it is possible to deter the rival's entry and that the potential rival discourages incumbents from deterring entry by announcing before its beginning service. Finally, I examine when competition can increase prices in a market, by analyzing the issuing side of the credit card industry. This industry is characterized by a two-sided market with a platform. Under the no-surcharge rule that restricts merchants to set the same price for cash and card purchases, the equilibrium interchange fee increases with competition. This occurs because issuers can compensate losses from competing on the issuing side by collectively increasing the interchange fee. As a result, limiting competition may improve social welfare when the interchange fee is higher than the social optimal level. In contrast, in the absence of the no-surcharge rule, the analysis shows that competition always improves social welfare by lowering the price of the market.
Competitive-type Price Discrimination
Threat of Entry
Lee, Sungbok (2010). Essays on the Relationship of Competition and Firms' Price Responses. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from