Cartel Overcharges: An Empirical Analysis

64 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2006

Date Written: September 15, 2006


Using the overcharge estimates for 406 cartel episodes, I evaluate the impact of cartel characteristics and market environment on the size of the overcharges imposed by cartels in different geographic markets and during six antitrust law regimes starting from the 18th century. I find that the average overcharge imposed by cartels in the sample is 21.88 percent with a median of 20 percent. International cartels imposed higher overcharges than domestic cartels. Overcharges imposed in the US and European markets were lower than overcharges imposed in the Asian markets and the rest of the world. Overcharges tend to decline as antitrust enforcement regimes had become stricter. As predicted by cartel theory, market structure is an important factor influencing the overcharge level. Markets where cartels have a high market share tend to have higher overcharges. If a leading firm has a high market share, the overcharges tend to decrease. As the number of cartel participants increases, the overcharges tend to fall. As cartels grow older, they manage to manipulate the market price more effectively.

Keywords: antitrust, cartels, collusion, NEIO, overcharges

JEL Classification: L1, L2, L4, L6, L7, L8, L9

Suggested Citation

Bolotova, Yuliya, Cartel Overcharges: An Empirical Analysis (September 15, 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Yuliya Bolotova (Contact Author)

University of Idaho ( email )

875 Perimeter Drive
Moscow, ID 83844
United States

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