The introduction of greater choice and competition in healthcare is an increasingly popular model for public service reform. This research shows that once restrictions on patients’ choice in England’s National Health Service were lifted, those requiring heart bypass surgery became more responsive to the quality of care available at different hospitals. This gave hospitals a greater incentive to improve quality and resulted in lower mortality rates. In short – the introduction of choice and competition saved lives.
We focus on research that concerns antitrust policy, economic regulation, and market design. Questions of interest include the following:
• How should we regulate horizontal and/or vertical mergers? Is there a tradeoff between short run market power and longer run investment incentives?
• How should we respond to departures from the competitive ideal in markets; with imperfect information, that are highly concentrated, that are natural monopolies, or that generate externalities resulting from knowledge producing activities?
• How should centralized markets (like health insurance exchanges, kidney exchanges, and school choice mechanisms) be organized?
• What is the optimal design of auctions to procure services for the government, such as highway construction contracts, or to sell government assets, such as spectrum or mineral rights?
• How can policy makers detect and deter collusion?
• How should patent policy be designed?
Do European car manufacturers make exclusive dealing contracts with their retailers to keep out new, smaller suppliers (mainly from Asia) and in turn, hurt competition? The manufacturing industry could collectively maintain an exclusive dealing system through a block exemption regulation, which would require exclusive dealing through manufacturers’ retailers. Our research shows that if these exclusive contracts were banned, consumers would benefit from allowing dealerships to have more than one supplier and consequently, more brands of cars in stock. However, consumers would not benefit much through increased price competition, in contrast to what is commonly believed.
The introduction of new production processes can have dramatic effects on aggregate productivity within an industry. This research explores the impact of the major technological innovation of the minimill on the US steel industry, analyzing detailed producer-level data on prices and production over a 40-year period. The study illustrates how technology can drive reallocation: the market share of plants using minimills rose significantly, but the older technology of vertically integrated production was not entirely displaced. Instead, less productive vertically integrated plants were driven out of the industry and output was reallocated to more efficient producers.
When new technologies enter the market, older products are often removed from store shelves. This article asks whether such product elimination is socially efficient. It studies this question in the context of the American Home PC market between 2001 and 2004. Empirically, the paper documents consumer heterogeneity and then studies how the major innovation of the time—Intel’s Pentium M™ processor—contributed to social welfare.
Urban land development in China is occurring on a massive scale and corruption is prevalent in the real estate sector through side deals between buyers and city officials. A recent study by Cai, Henderson, and Zhang (2013, RAND Journal of Economics) provides indirect evidence of this corruption through the use of two different types of auctions. The authors argue that the practices of city officials overseeing land sales amount to losses in city revenue in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Improved access to foreign inputs has increased firms’ productivity in a number of countries. Analysing data for Hungary, this research explores the channels through which imported inputs boost productivity and finds that the positive effects are particularly strong for foreign-owned firms.
What’s the best way to match new doctors to medical residency programs? The medical residency matching problem is solved by a centralized coordination system that pairs market participants according to their preferences. This paper examines the evidence for the claim that the matching system depresses salaries and finds that an alternative explanation – low salaries represent an implicit tuition fee for medical training – is more promising.
How long should we expect the labor market transition following a trade liberalization episode to last? To what extent will the potential gains from trade be reduced due to the slow adjustment of the economy to the new trade equilibrium? What are the characteristics of the workers who will lose the most from trade liberalization?
In our globalized economy, information about the costs, benefits, and distributional consequences of lowering trade barriers is essential to policymakers trying to decide if a particular agreement should be supported. This research fills an important gap in our knowledge concerning the effects of reducing trade barriers when firms have some degree of monopoly power.
Many news outlets are struggling to survive in rapidly evolving print and digital media markets. This has caused concern that these markets will be dominated by a small number of firms with political agendas. What can regulators do to prevent this from happening and ensure, as much as possible, that the public is served by a competitive, politically diverse marketplace of ideas?