Essential Principles for the Design of Antitrust Analysis for Multisided Platforms

32 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2018 Last revised: 28 Mar 2019

See all articles by David S. Evans

David S. Evans

Global Economics Group; Market Platform Dynamics

Date Written: January 9, 2019


This paper presents some basic principles for conducting the antitrust analysis of multisided platforms that courts could adapt to the particulars of their jurisdictions and case laws. It has a particular focus on measuring consumer surplus for platform businesses and the implications of that for the design of antitrust rules. It shows how multisided platforms increase welfare by reducing transactions costs and resolving externalities among economic agents. Its presents three normative principles for policy interventions and illustrates these principles by showing how they apply to recent debates over privacy. The paper then develops a framework for considering antitrust rules in light of these principles given the objectives of antitrust law, error costs, and developing administrable rules. It lastly considers the competing approaches to analyzing multisided platforms that were presented to the Supreme Court in the American Express litigation and the Court’s decision in light of these principles.

Keywords: multisided platforms, two-sided platforms, antitrust policy, American Express Supreme Court, design of competition policy, consumer welfare in antitrust

JEL Classification: K21, K4, K15, L4, L41, L42, L5

Suggested Citation

Evans, David S., Essential Principles for the Design of Antitrust Analysis for Multisided Platforms (January 9, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

David S. Evans (Contact Author)

Global Economics Group ( email )

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Market Platform Dynamics ( email )

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