Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code
NBER Working Paper No. 24040
We study the adoption, diffusion, and impacts of the Universal Product Code (UPC) between 1975 and 1992, during the initial years of the barcode system. We find evidence of network effects in the diffusion process. Matched-sample difference-in-difference estimates show that firm size and trademark registrations increase following UPC adoption by manufacturers. Industry-level import penetration also increases 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.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24040
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