NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Knife Edge of Plateau: When Do Market Models Tip?

Glenn Ellison, Drew Fudenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 9528
Issued in March 2003
NBER Program(s):Industrial Organization

This paper studies whether agents must agglomerate at a single location in a class of models of two-sided interaction. In these models there is an increasing returns effect that favors agglomeration, but also a crowding or market-impact effect that makes agents prefer to be in a market with fewer agents of their own type. We show that such models do not tip in the way the term is commonly used. Instead, they have a broad plateau of equilibria with two active markets, and tipping occurs only when one market is below a critical size threshold. Our assumptions are fairly weak, and are satisfied in Krugman's [1991b] model of labor market pooling, a heterogeneous-agent version of Pagano's [1989] asset market model, and Ellison, Fudenberg and Mobius's [2002] model of competing auctions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9528

Published: Glenn Ellison & Drew Fudenberg, 2003. "Knife-Edge Or Plateau: When Do Market Models Tip?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1249-1278, November. citation courtesy of

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