Quantifying the Gap between Equilibrium and Optimum Under Monopolistic Competition
72 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2018
Date Written: January 10, 2018
Equilibria and optima generally differ in imperfectly competitive markets. While this is well understood theoretically, it is unclear how large the welfare distortions are in the aggregate economy. Do they matter quantitatively? To answer this question, we develop a multi-sector monopolistic competition model with endogenous firm entry and selection, productivity, and markups. Using French and British data, we quantify the gap between the equilibrium and optimal allocations. In our preferred specification, inefficiencies in the labor allocation and entry between sectors, as well as inefficient selection and output per firm within sectors, generate welfare losses of about 6–10% of GDP.
Keywords: monopolistic competition; welfare distortions; equilibrium versus optimum; inefficient entry and selection; inter- and intra-sectoral allocations
JEL Classification: D43; D50; L13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation