Appliance Efficiency Standards and Price Discrimination

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I explore the effects of two simultaneous changes in minimum energy efficiency and ENERGY STAR standards for clothes washers. Adapting the Mussa and Rosen (1978) and Ronnen (1991) second-degree price discrimination model, I demonstrate that clothes washer prices and menus adjusted to the new standards in patterns consistent with a market in which firms had been price discriminating. In particular, I show evidence of discontinuous price drops at the time the standards were imposed, driven largely by mid-low efficiency segments of the market. The price discrimination model predicts this result. On the other hand, in a perfectly competition market, prices should increase for these market segments. Additionally, new models proliferated in the highest efficiency market segment following the standard changes. Finally, I show that firms appeared to use different adaptation strategies at the two instances of the standards changing.

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