Does Antitrust Policy Improve Consumer Welfare? Assessing the Evidence

Robert W. Crandall and
Robert W. Crandall Adjunct Senior Fellow - Technology Policy Institute
Clifford Winston

April 15, 2004


This paper reviews the literature and assesses the effects of antitrust policy and enforcement on consumer welfare. We find no evidence that antitrust policy in the areas of monopolization, collusion, and mergers has provided much benefit to consumers and, in some instances, we find evidence that it may have lowered consumer welfare. We also do not find any evidence that antitrust policy has deterred firms from engaging in actions that could harm consumers. We identify various reasons for the apparent ineffectiveness of antitrust policy, offer preliminary policy recommendations, and suggest ways in which economists could more fully assess antitrust policy.