This study provides an empirical test of price mimicking among publicly owned water utilities. Using a fixed effects spatial Durbin model with data from Swedish municipalities during 2002–2012, I estimate the elasticity of the own relative to neighbors’ average price to 0.14. This behavior can be explained in terms of an informal yardstick competition: when consumers use neighboring municipalities’ prices as benchmarks for costs or as behaviorally based reference prices, policy makers will face the risk of consumer complaints and reduced voter support if deviating too much from neighboring municipalities’ prices. Further, I find some evidence that price mimicking is more pronounced in municipalities where voter support for the ruling coalition is weak.
Journal of Regulatory Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 26, 2017
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