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Price Discrimination A monopoly engages in price discrimination if it is able to sell otherwise identical units of output at different prices Whether a price discrimination strategy is feasible depends on the inability of buyers to practice arbitrage profit-seeking middlemen will destroy any discriminatory pricing scheme if possible price discrimination becomes possible if resale is costly

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Perfect Price Discrimination If each buyer can be separately identified by the monopolist, it may be possible to charge each buyer the maximum price he would be willing to pay for the good perfect or first-degree price discrimination extracts all consumer surplus no deadweight loss

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The monopolist will continue this way until the marginal buyer is no longer willing to pay the goods marginal cost Q1Q1 P1P1 The first buyer pays P 1 for Q 1 units Q*Q* Q2Q2 P2P2 The second buyer pays P 2 for Q 2 -Q 1 units Perfect Price Discrimination Quantity Price D Under perfect price discrimination, the monopolist charges a different price to each buyer MC

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Market Separation Perfect price discrimination requires the monopolist to know the demand function for each potential buyer A less stringent requirement would be to assume that the monopoly can separate its buyers into a few identifiable markets follow a different pricing policy in each market this is known as third-degree price discrimination

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Market Separation All the monopolist needs to know in this case is the price elasticity of demand for each market If the marginal cost is the same in all markets, The profit-maximizing price will be higher in markets where demand is less elastic

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Market Separation Quantity in Market 2Quantity in Market 1 Price 0 D D MR MC Q2*Q2* P2P2 Q1*Q1* P1P1 If two markets are separate, a monopolist can maximize profits by selling its product at different prices in the two markets The market with the less elastic demand will be charged the higher price

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Third-Degree Price Discrimination Suppose that the demand curves in two separated markets are given by Q 1 = 24 – P 1 Q 2 = 24 – 2P 2 Suppose that marginal cost is constant and equal to 6 Profit maximization requires that MR 1 = 24 – 2Q 1 = 6 = MR 2 = 12 – Q 2

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Third-Degree Price Discrimination The optimal choices are Q 1 = 9 Q 2 = 6 The prices that prevail in the two markets are P 1 = 15 P 2 = 9

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Third-Degree Price Discrimination The allocational impact of this policy can be evaluated by calculating the deadweight losses in the two markets the competitive output would be 18 in market 1 and 12 in market 2 DW 1 = 0.5(P 1 -MC)(18-Q 1 ) = 0.5(15-6)(18-9) = 40.5 DW 2 = 0.5(P 2 -MC)(12-Q 2 ) = 0.5(9-6)(12-6) = 9

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Third-Degree Price Discrimination If this monopoly was to pursue a single- price policy, it would use the demand function Q = Q 1 + Q 2 = 48 – 3P So marginal revenue would be MR = 16 – (2/3)P Profit-maximization occurs where Q = 15 P = 11

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Third-Degree Price Discrimination The deadweight loss is smaller with one price than with two: DW = 0.5(P-MC)(30-Q) = 0.5(11-6)(15) = 37.5

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Discrimination Through Price Schedules An alternative approach would be for the monopoly to choose a price schedule that provides incentives for buyers to separate themselves depending on how much they wish to buy again, this is only feasible when there are no arbitrage possibilities

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Two-Part Tariff A linear two-part tariff occurs when buyers must pay a fixed fee for the right to consume a good and a uniform price for each unit consumed T(Q) = A + PQ The monopolists goal is to choose A and P to maximize profits, given the demand for the product

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Two-Part Tariff Because the average price paid by any demander is T/Q = A/Q + P this tariff is only feasible if those who pay low average prices (those for whom Q is large) cannot resell the good to those who must pay high average prices (those for whom Q is small)

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Two-Part Tariff One feasible approach for profit maximization would be for the firm to set P = MC and then set A so as to extract the maximum consumer surplus from a set of buyers This might not be the most profitable approach In general, optimal pricing schedules will depend on a variety of contingencies

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