Structuralism in Competition Policy

Document Type

Book Chapter

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The immediate impact of marginalist economics was profound distrust in markets, which by the 1930s were regarded as differing widely from one another and prone to failure. First was a period in which collusion or monopoly seemed inevitable in many industries. Then came the era of monopolistic competition, which viewed firms as distinguished mainly by product differentiation rather than price, was suspicious of intellectual property rights, and saw prices as too high and output too low. In the 1950s economists developed one of the most durable, most tested, and eventually most vilified theories of competition policy: structuralism, or the view that one could determine economic performance by measuring the number of firms in a market and difficulty of new entry. Until it collapsed in the 1970s, structuralism provided the one thing that antitrust policy had lacked, namely, simple and robust-sounding answers to complex questions of merger law and anticompetitive practices.


antitrust, merger, monopolistic competition, Structuralism, anticompetitive practices

Publication Title

The Opening of American Law: Neoclassical Legal Thought, 1870-1970