NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Emek Basker

US Census Bureau
Center for Economic Studies
4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233-9100

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

November 2017Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code
with Timothy Simcoe: w24040
This paper matches archival data from the Uniform Code Council to establishments in the Longitudinal Business Database and Economic Census to study the diffusion and impacts of the Universal Product Code (UPC). We find evidence of network effects in the diffusion process. Matched-sample difference-in-difference estimates show that employment and trademark registrations increase following UPC adoption by manufacturers or wholesalers. Industry-level imports also increase with domestic UPC adoption. Our findings suggest that barcodes, scanning and related technologies helped stimulate variety-enhancing product innovation and encourage the growth of international retail supply chains.
February 2012Raising the Barcode Scanner: Technology and Productivity in the Retail Sector
w17825
Barcodes and barcode scanners transformed the grocery industry in the 1970s. I use store-level data from the 1972, 1977, and 1982 Census of Retail Trade, matched to data on store scanner installations, to estimate scanners' effect on labor productivity. I find that early scanners increased a store's labor productivity, on average, by approximately 4.5 percent in the first few years. The effect was larger in stores carrying more packaged products, consistent with the presence of network externalities. Short-run gains were small relative to fixed costs, suggesting that the impediment to widespread adoption of the new technology was profitability, not coordination problems.

Published: Emek Basker, 2012. "Raising the Barcode Scanner: Technology and Productivity in the Retail Sector," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 1-27, July. citation courtesy of

January 2012Raising the Barcode Scanner: Technology and Productivity in the Retail Sector
in Standards, Patents and Innovations, Timothy Simcoe, Ajay K. Agrawal, and Stuart Graham, organizers
 
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