Decarolis, Francesco, Maria Polyakova, and Stephen P. Ryan. “Subsidy design in privately provided social insurance: Lessons from Medicare Part D.” Journal of Political Economy 128, no. 5 (2020): 1712-1752.
The efficiency of publicly-subsidized, privately-provisioned social insurance programs depends on the interaction between strategic insurers and the subsidy mechanism. We study this interaction in the context of Medicare’s prescription drug coverage program. We find that the observed mechanism is successful in keeping “raise-the-subsidy” incentives relatively low, acts much like a flat voucher, and obtains a level of welfare close to the optimal voucher. Across a range of counterfactuals, we find that more efficient subsidy mechanisms share three features: they retain the marginal elasticity of demand, limit the exercise of market power, and preserve the link between prices and marginal costs.
Stephen P. Ryan, “The Costs of Environmental Regulation in a Concentrated Industry,” Econometrica, Vol. 80, No. 3, May 2012, pp. 1019–1061.
The typical cost analysis of an environmental regulation consists of an engineering estimate of the compliance costs. In industries where fixed costs are an important determinant of market structure, this static analysis ignores the dynamic effects of the regulation on entry, investment, and market power. I evaluate the welfare costs of the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act on the U.S. Portland cement industry, accounting for these effects through a dynamic model of oligopoly in the tradition of Ericson and Pakes (1995). Using the two-step estimator of Bajari, Benkard, and Levin (2007), I recover the entire cost structure of the industry, including the distributions of sunk entry costs and capacity adjustment costs. My primary finding is that the Amendments have significantly increased the sunk cost of entry, leading to a loss of between $810M and $3.2B in product market surplus. A static analysis misses the welfare penalty on consumers, and obtains the wrong sign of the welfare effects on incumbent firms.
Stephen P. Ryan, Patrick Bajari, Jeremy Fox, and Kyoo-il Kim, Journal of Econometrics, February 2012, Vol. 166, No. 2, pp. 204–212.
The random coefficients multinomial choice logit model, also known as the mixed logit, has been widely used in empirical choice analysis for the last thirty years. We prove that the distribution of random coefficients in the multinomial logit model is nonparametrically identified. Our approach requires variation in product characteristics only locally and does not rely on the special regressors with large supports used in related papers. One of our two identification arguments is constructive. Both approaches may be applied to other choice models with random coefficients.