First Degree Price Discrimination Goes to School

29 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2015

See all articles by Joel Waldfogel

Joel Waldfogel

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 2015

Abstract

Personalized pricing is widely discussed but seldom observed, making studies of its efficacy rare. Yet, first degree price discrimination is common in the pricing of higher education, and I use data on prices and the characteristics of students admitted to a professional graduate program at a public university to estimate a matriculation demand function. I then derive linear pricing functions that maximize revenue for a target number of students. By allowing these functions to depend on progressively richer sets of observables, I explore the effect of personalization of pricing on profit. Tailoring prices to a one‚Äźdimensional measure of student quality would raise revenue by 2.2 per cent above the revenue with uniform pricing. Pricing based on both student quality and state residency raises revenue by 8.4 per cent, and further tailoring based on available observables raises prices 9.0 per cent above the maximum revenue under uniform pricing. Pricing that obeys current statutory tuition limits raises revenue less but still by just over half as much. I also infer the welfare weights that the pricing process implicitly attaches to student characteristics.

Suggested Citation

Waldfogel, Joel, First Degree Price Discrimination Goes to School (December 2015). The Journal of Industrial Economics, Vol. 63, Issue 4, pp. 569-597, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2709503 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joie.12085

Joel Waldfogel (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )

271 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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