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Price Discrimination in Broadway Theater

Phillip Leslie

RAND Journal of Economics, 2004, vol. 35, issue 3, pages 520-541

Abstract: A common thread in the theory literature on price discrimination has been the ambiguous welfare effects for consumers and the rise in profit for firms, relative to uniform pricing. In this study I resolve the ambiguity for consumers and quantify the benefit for a firm. I describe a model of price discrimination that includes both second-degree and third-degree price discrimination. Using data from a Broadway play, I estimate the structural model and conduct various experiments to investigate the implications of alternative pricing policies. The observed price discrimination may improve the firm's profit by approximately 5%, relative to uniform pricing, while the difference for aggregate consumer welfare is negligible. Also, I show that the gain from changing prices in the face of fluctuating demand is small under the observed price discrimination.

Date: 2004
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