Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code

71 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2017 Last revised: 25 Aug 2020

See all articles by Emek Basker

Emek Basker

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies; University of Missouri - Department of Economics

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business; NBER

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 10, 2020

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Universal Product Code, Barcode, Supply Chain, Network Effects, Trademarks

JEL Classification: O33, L11, L60, L81

Suggested Citation

Basker, Emek and Simcoe, Timothy S., Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code (August 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2995801 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2995801

Emek Basker (Contact Author)

U.S. Census Bureau - Center for Economic Studies ( email )

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Timothy S. Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

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