CONFERENCES: ONLINE MARKETS - CONSUMER WELFARE - DIGITAL ECONOMY

Digital economy and consumer welfare (Online markets and offline welfare effects: The Internet, competition, society and democracy - Oxford, 22 May 2017)

While the Oxford English Dictionary defines “welfare” as “The health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group”, it is not that simple to define the consumer welfare in the internet context. Gradual changes introduced by platforms with significant market power are able to distort the idea of consumer welfare in digital markets. Furthermore, it is necessary to analyse the online platform’s role in efficiency gains, notably in the online hotel sector.

Bob Dylan and consumer welfare Alec Burnside Partner, Dechert LLP, Brussels The challenge put to me in opening today’s event is to explain what we mean by “consumer welfare.” With the European Commission’s chief economist sitting by my side, and with all the authority that comes from my O level in economics, that is a challenge I am certainly going to duck. But in framing the issues for a day that sets out to discuss “Competition, Society and Democracy,” and from a background as an antitrust practitioner, I have experienced that consumer welfare seems in practice to involve a focus on the price of goods and services, and what a particular situation may do to that price. And secondarily, a concern with issues of quality—although with some diffidence, given the difficulty of measuring

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Alec J. Burnside, Philippe Chappatte, Agustin Reyna, Sarah de Morant, Digital economy and consumer welfare (Online markets and offline welfare effects: The Internet, competition, society and democracy - Oxford, 22 May 2017), September 2017, Concurrences Review N° 3-2017, Art. N° 84700, www.concurrences.com

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