How consumer information curtails market power in the funeral industry
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Based on the French market, the purpose of this article is to show that contrary to common opinion in France about the impossibility of having a deregulation of the business of funeral services without observing abuses of many locally dominant suppliers, improvement in consumer information, along with the entry of a special storing facility service (“chambre funéraire”), imposes enough competitive pressure on the various suppliers, especially the former monopolist. With a Discrete Choice Experiment implemented in Lyon, France, we find evidence that even in this very emotionally charged market, consumer behavior has changed in favor of a better assessment of the different possibilities of services supplied and of their relative prices (e.g., high price elasticities). We also implement simulations in local markets and show that with good consumer information the market power of supposedly dominant firms is far less important than generally believed. Lastly, simulations stress the procompetitive effects of any business setting up a new storing facility.
KeywordsFuneral industry Deregulation Local competition Market power Discrete choice model
JEL ClassificationC25 D12 K23 L43
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