Awarded Antitrust Research by Two Graduate Students in Economic and Social Sciences

Awarded Antitrust Research by Two Graduate Students in Economic and Social Sciences


Bocconi not only invests in the quality of its research, but also prepares and tries to involve students directly in research activities. Two MSc in Economic and Social Sciences graduates, Alessandra Catenazzo and Guido Deiana, were awarded for their MSc dissertations on the topic of antitrust.
Alessandra Catenazzo, author of the thesis entitled Competition and the Green Deal: a Study of Consumers WTP for Reduced CO2 Emissions in the Italian Car Market, won the Antitrust Prize 2021, established by the Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) and reserved for those who have distinguished themselves, through their activities, in promoting the culture of competition and consumer protection.
In detail, Alessandra's dissertation investigates the relationship between sustainability and competition. Her aim is to understand consumers' concern for the sustainability feature of a product. The study analyzes the automotive sector in Italy because in this market the sustainability aspect is easily measured through car emissions. In addition, it is a feature that consumers are likely to observe, because according to law, they must know cars' emission levels. The results illustrate a significant value of money that consumers are willing to pay extra for sustainability. This suggests that, at least in the car market, by increasing market competition, companies will voluntarily invest in the sustainability aspect of products in order to attract consumers. Therefore, it is possible to combine the interests of competition and sustainability.
Guido Deiana, author of the thesis titled No More Free Choice: An Empirical Analysis of Default Options in the Amazon Marketplace, has won two contests: Marco Fanno Scholarship (Unicredit Foundation) which supports academic excellence in the field of economics and finance, and the third edition of the "Luigi Prosperetti Award," bestowed by the Italian Antitrust Association (Associazione Antitrust Italiana) for the best dissertation on topics related to economics of competitive markets and implementation of antitrust regulations.
Guido's dissertation studies how products recommended by online platforms, e.g. Amazon Choice products suggested by Amazon, influence consumers' choices. Specifically, data were collected on usb cables sold in five Amazon Europe marketplaces. The results show that on low-cost and easily replaceable products, consumers 9 times out of 10 buy the Amazon Choice product. Consequently, these results show the potential for consumer choice bias that is derived from a vertically integrated platform that competes with third-party sellers in its own environment.
Francesco Decarolis, Full Professor of the Department of Economics, is the supervisor of the award-winning dissertations. "The course Empirical Industrial Organization and Market Design that I teach in MSc, and which Alessandra and Guido also attended, deals with topics at the frontier in industrial economics and offers students tools for empirical analysis, hence the use of data in antitrust issues and understanding how markets work. It also offers methodologies that integrate economic theory and data to develop quantitative models capable of predicting changes in market structures. For example, in these dissertations, students have used demand estimation methods, so through data on product market shares and product characteristics, one is able to quantify consumer preferences for different products and understand how different market policies affect the evolution of competition," says Decarolis.
"Professor Decarolis' course completely changed my idea of empirical work and my research direction on economics. It made me discover a whole part of economics that brings together economic theory and programming," adds Guido.
"The MSc in Economic and Social Sciences extremely helpful in approaching research. Most of the exams have very practical parts of data analysis, which you need to do research. In fact, many graduates continue their path in international PhD programs or start working in research fields," says Alessandra.
Guido and Alessandra are currently Research Assistants at Bocconi. Soon Guido will begin a PhD in Economics at New York University, while Alessandra will start working at the Italian Competition Authority.
Decarolis' course will be available again at Bocconi in fall 2023 when he will return from a sabbatical period spent doing research in the United States.

by Weiwei Chen
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