1.5.6: Price Discrimination (HL only)



  1. Price discrimination occurs when a producer charges a different price to different customers for an identical good or service, according the willingness/ability of different customers to pay for it.


Conditions for price discrimination

  • Producer must have-some price-setting ability → Price discrimination isn’t suitable in perfect competition
  • Consumers must have different PED for the product → If not, they wouldn’t be prepared to pay different prices for the product.
  • Producer must be able to separate the consumers → If not, it destroys the ability for the producer to practice price discrimination.


Degrees of price discrimination


1. First degree price discrimination

  • Takes place when each consumer pays exactly the price they were prepared to pay.
  • Examples include bargaining for a product to get the price consumers want to pay.
  • However, by discriminating → Eliminates consumer surplus of the tourists and the trader’s revenue increases, therefore demand = marginal revenue.


2. Second degree price discrimination

  • Takes place when firms charge different prices to customers depending on how much they purchase.
  • They charge a high price for the first few units, then lower prices for extra units consumed by the customers.
  • Mostly used by utilities companies.


3. Third degree price discrimination

  • Takes place when consumers in a market are segmented.
  • Different prices offered for consumers depending on their PED.
  • Therefore, the slope of demand curve for the product, such as movie tickets, changes as it would be more inelastic to teenagers and elastic for mature adults.

Advantages of price discrimination

  • Enables producers to gain a higher level of revenue as consumer surplus is eroded.
  • May enable firms to produce more of the product → Gain economies of scale → Lowers average costs and prices in all of the market segments.
    • Same effect also goes for consumers as well.
  • Enable firms to drive competitors out of the more elastic market.
  • Allow consumers to purchase a product they wouldn’t have been able to if other consumers weren’t paying a higher price.
  • Allows consumers to purchase a product at a lower price than they would’ve had to pay if the producer hadn’t been able to secure higher prices from others.
  • Readily available to more consumers → Increases total output.


Disadvantages of price discrimination

  • Any consumer surplus before price discrimination will be lost.
  • Some consumers have to pay more than they would’ve in a single, non-discriminated market.
  • Some firms, like airline firms, might lose revenue since consumers don’t have to pay tickets if they are 2 years or older, which reduces the chances of profit maximization.