March 25, 2019
Feb 27 2019

Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impact of the Universal Product Code

12:00 pm — Cotting House Conference Room, HBS

Digital Seminar Series: Emek Basker, University of Missouri. This event is open to faculty, doctoral students, and academic researchers.

Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impact of the Universal Product Code

Abstract: This paper matches archival data from the Uniform Code Council to establishments in the Longitudinal Business Database and Economic Census to study the diffusion and impacts of the Universal Product Code (UPC). We find evidence of network effects in the diffusion process. Matched-sample difference-in-difference estimates show that employment and trademark registrations increase following UPC adoption by manufacturers or wholesalers. Industry-level imports also increase with domestic UPC adoption. Our findings suggest that barcodes, scanning and related technologies helped stimulate variety-enhancing product innovation and encourage the growth of international retail supply chains. Co-authored with Tim Simcoe.

A buffet lunch will be available at 11:45 a.m. The talk will begin at 12:00 p.m.


  • Emek is an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri and Principal Economist in the Center for Economic Studies at U.S. Census Bureau.

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