Estimation of dynamic discrete choice models in continuous time with an application to retail competition
This article develops a dynamic model of retail competition and uses it to study the impact of the expansion of a new national competitor on the structure of urban markets. In order to accommodate substantial heterogeneity (both observed and unobserved) across agents and markets, the article first develops a general framework for estimating and solving dynamic discrete choice models in continuous time that is computationally light and readily applicable to dynamic games. In the proposed framework, players face a standard dynamic discrete choice problem at decision times that occur stochastically. The resulting stochastic-sequential structure naturally admits the use of conditional choice probability methods for estimation and makes it possible to compute counterfactual simulations for relatively high-dimensional games. The model and method are applied to the retail grocery industry, into which Walmart began rapidly expanding in the early 1990s, eventually attaining a dominant position. We find that Walmart's expansion into groceries came mostly at the expense of the large incumbent supermarket chains, rather than the single-store outlets that bore the brunt of its earlier conquest of the broader general merchandise sector. Instead, we find that independent grocers actually thrive when Walmart enters, leading to an overall reduction in market concentration. These competitive effects are strongest in larger markets and those into which Walmart expanded most rapidly, suggesting a diminishing role of scale and a greater emphasis on differentiation in this previously mature industry.
Arcidiacono, P; Bayer, P; Blevins, JR; Ellickson, PB
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