There is increasing awareness of a ‘gender data gap’ in a range of academic, business and policy areas. The problem arises where policy or business decisions are based on data that has been collected only for men, or on analyses of data in the aggregate that do not account for differences between men and women. Competition policy is one such area.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has launched an initiative to explore whether applying a gender ‘lens’ can help deliver more effective competition policy.
Oxera has contributed one of the seven studies covered by the OECD’s initiative, focusing on the assessment of gender differences in surveys carried out for the purposes of market definition and merger analysis. In competition policy, surveys and other analyses that help to define a market or assess a merger are typically analysed in aggregate across genders, thereby overlooking potentially significant differences. If there are differences in these surveys according to gender, this may provide valuable insights for competition authorities and practitioners, and would suggest the need for a change in approach.
Oxera’s study contributes to the debate around gender-inclusive competition policy by addressing two questions.
- Are there significant differences by gender in consumer behaviour?
- If there are differences, what are their implications for market outcomes and competition policy, and in particular for market definition and merger analysis?
To answer these questions, we have carried out an analysis on consumer surveys previously undertaken by Oxera and by a number of national competition authorities (NCAs). These surveys cover a diverse set of sectors, products and industries, including sports channels, supermarkets, health insurance, beach holidays, the Internet, retail banking and energy.
Through the use of case studies we explore the differences in consumer behaviour of men and women and the potential effects on market definition and competition.