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The Impact of E-Commerce on Relative Prices and Consumer Welfare

Yoon J. Jo, Misaki Matsumura, David E. Weinstein

NBER Working Paper No. 26506
Issued in November 2019
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment

This paper examines the impact of e-commerce on pricing behavior and welfare. Using Japanese data, we find that the entry of e-commerce firms significantly raised the rate of intercity price convergence for goods sold intensively online, but not for other goods. E-commerce also lowered relative inflation rates for goods sold intensively online. We overcome data challenges using long data series and historical catalog sales as an instrument for e-commerce sales intensity. We estimate that reductions in price dispersion raised welfare by 0.3 percent. E-commerce also lowered variety-adjusted prices on average by 0.9 percent, and more in cities with highly educated populations.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26506

 
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