Market Power and the Lerner Index: A Classroom Experiment
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
November 13, 2009
We describe a classroom experiment that illustrates the concepts of market power and the Lerner Index. Students are organized in groups, each making a decision for a monopolist. Monopolists face different (unknown) demand curves, each with a different (constant) elasticity. Through repetition, students discover the profit maximizing solution and find that different monopolies have different mark-ups. The experimenter then reveals the unknown demand curves and illustrates how different elasticities are graphically and numerically connected to mark-ups and the Lerner index. The experiment can be used in a wide variety of courses including principles of economics, intermediate microeconomics, industrial organization, international trade, managerial economics and MBA classes. The experimental design is flexible: it can accommodate different class sizes (ranging from 10 to 100 students) as well as different demand parameterizations.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: Market power, Lerner index, teaching, economic experiments, monopoly, demand elasticity
JEL Classification: A22, D21, D43, L40
Date posted: November 14, 2009
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