The most fascinating part of custom essay writing websites are the price sheets. The market is international, and - judging from the number of such sites - highly competitive. For an undergraduate essay with a 5 to 6 day deadline, typical prices are in the range of $16 per page, $16.76 per page, $18.99 per page (for premium quality work), or $20.99 per page (for an allegedly US based service).
I recently found an essay-writing service with unusually high prices: http://www.essayshifu.com, a site catering to Chinese students studying in Canada. The price this service charges is $33 per page for an undergraduate essay with a 5 to 6 day deadline, with prices escalating to $50 per page for same-day orders.
Why would a website providing Chinese-language customer service and English-language essays charge so much more for custom essay writing services than English-only websites do?
The diagram above shows cost-driven price differentials. Both the Chinese-ESL essay market and the English essay market are perfectly competitive. The supply curve in each market represents the marginal cost of production. Higher costs in the Chinese-ESL market translate into a higher supply curve, and thus higher equilibrium prices.
But is the market for custom essays a perfectly competitive market? If students who use http://www.essayshifu.com struggle to communicate in English, they will find it difficult to shop around for low price essays. Furthermore, I suspect the number of custom essay writing services specializing in Chinese-language service/English-language essays is small relative to the number of English-only essay services. Because customers of the Chinese/English essay service have fewer alternatives, they would be expected to be less price sensitive, less likely to switch over to another service if http://www.essayshifu.com charges a slightly-above-market price.
Taking it to the level of the individual essay writing service:
If a typical English-language essay service tries to charge more than about $16 per page (5 to 6 day deadline), all of its customers will go elsewhere - there are so many other services on-line. From a firm's perspective, the demand for its services appears to be perfectly elastic - it simply can't charge any more htan $16 per page and retain its customers.
The service providing essays for Chinese-speaking students has some degree of market power - it can raise its prices and still keep its customers. In economics language, it is able to practice "price discrimination." Should it charge a high price and have relatively few customers? Should it charge a low price and have lots of customers? The firm makes the decision by comparing marginal costs and marginal revenues. To sell more essays, it has to lower its price - but this causes it to lose revenue on sales to existing clients. The net impact of these two effects is shown by the marginal revenue (MR) curve above. The profit-maximizing output level is where marginal revenue is equal to marginal costs. That's where the firm chooses to produce - and then charges the maximum price possible at that quantity.
I have no idea which of the two explanations above is the correct one - and am not about to mount a sting operation to find out!
The moral of this story: improving one's English language skills has a real economic pay-off - if only to obtain cheaper custom essay writing services.
Note: comments very welcome, but please be aware that I can read the email address of anyone who comments, even when the address does not appear on the blog.