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

48 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2017 Last revised: 6 Dec 2017

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: November 10, 2017

Abstract

This paper matches archival data from the Uniform Code Council to establishments in the Longitudinal Business Database and Economic Census to study the diffusion and impacts of the Universal Product Code (UPC). We find evidence of network effects in the diffusion process. Matched-sample difference-in-difference estimates show that employment and trademark registrations increase following UPC adoption by manufacturers or wholesalers. Industry-level imports also increase 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 (November 10, 2017). 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 )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233-9100
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University of Missouri - Department of Economics ( email )

118 Professional Building
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

HOME PAGE: http://emekbasker.org

Timothy S. Simcoe

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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