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Abstract

In the past 15 years, industrial-organization economists have significantly expanded the range of algorithms for calculating welfare losses due to imperfect competition. We compare eleven empirical estimates of economic losses due to market power in 47 U.S. food manufacturing industries, almost all of them previously unpublished. Each of the studies incorporate different theoretical assumptions about demand conditions, supply conditions, or industry pricing behavior; or they utilize various data sources, time periods, and assumptions about the proper competitive benchmark. The estimates of average allocative losses due imperfect competition range from 0.2 percent to an impossibly high 289 percent of industry output; consumer losses range from 6.0 percent to 816 percent. However, there is a high degree of congruence in the rankings of economic losses due to market power. Hence, from the perspective of antitrust enforcement, the choice of industry targets has not been greatly altered by advances in estimation techniques.

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