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All-Pay Auctions vs. Lotteries as Provisional Fixed-Prize Fundraising Mechanisms

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  • John Duffy
  • Alexander Matros

Abstract

We study two provisional fixed-prize mechanisms for funding public goods: an all-pay auction and a lottery. In our setting, the public good is provided only if the participants' contributions are greater than the fixed-prize value; otherwise contributions are refunded. We prove that in this provisional fixed prize setting, lotteries can outperform all-pay auctions in terms of expected public good provision. Specifically, we state conditions under which the provisional fixed prize all-pay auction mechanism generates zero public good provision, while the provisional fixed prize lottery mechanism generates positive public good provision. We test these predictions in a laboratory experiment where we vary the number of participants, the marginal per capita return (mpcr) on the public good and the mechanism for awarding the prize, either a lottery or an all-pay auction. Consistent with the theory, we find that the mpcr matters for contribution amounts under the lottery mechanism. However, inconsistent with the theory bids are always significantly higher than predicted and there is no significant difference in public good contributions under either mechanism. We suggest how a non-expected utility approach involving probability weighting can help to explain over-bidding in our experiment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 448.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision: Jul 2013
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:448

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Keywords: All-pay auction; lottery; public goods; fixed-prize mechanisms; fundraising; experiment;

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References

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  1. Jacob K. Goeree & Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal & John L. Turner, 2005. "How (Not) to Raise Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 897-926, August.
  2. Henrik Orzen, 2008. "Fundraising through Competition: Evidence from the Lab," Discussion Papers 2008-11, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2005. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 11611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. R. Isaac & James Walker & Susan Thomas, 1984. "Divergent evidence on free riding: An experimental examination of possible explanations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 113-149, January.
  5. Luca Corazzini & Marco Faravelli & Luca Stanca, 2007. "A Prize to Give for: An Experiment on Public Good Funding Mechanisms," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 0714, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
  6. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1991. "The All-Pay Auction With Complete Information," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1007, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  7. Sander Onderstal & Arthur J.C. Schram & Adriaan R. Soetevent, 2011. "Bidding to give in the Field: Door-to-Door Fundraisers had it right from the Start," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-070/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 10 Nov 2011.
  8. Jeffrey Carpenter & Jessica Holmes & PeterHans Matthews, 2008. "Charity auctions: a field experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(525), pages 92-113, 01.
  9. Douglas D. Davis & Laura Razzolini & Robert Reilly & Bart J. Wilson, 2003. "Raising Revenues for Charity: Auctions versus Lotteries," Working Papers 0301, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics.
  10. Gneezy, Uri & Smorodinsky, Rann, 2006. "All-pay auctions--an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 255-275, October.
  11. Andreas Lange & John List & Michael Price, 2007. "Using lotteries to finance public goods: theory and experimental evidence," Artefactual Field Experiments 00381, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. Arthur J.H.C. Schram & Sander Onderstal, 2009. "Bidding To Give: An Experimental Comparison Of Auctions For Charity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(2), pages 431-457, 05.
  13. Morgan, John & Sefton, Martin, 2000. "Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 785-810, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Giebe & Paul Schweinzer, 2013. "Consuming your Way to Efficiency: Public Goods Provision through Non-Distortionary Tax Lotteries," CESifo Working Paper Series 4228, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Marco Faravelli & Luca Stanca, 2013. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Causal Evidence of Non-Separability," Working Papers 250, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2013.
  3. John Duffy & Alexander Matros, 2012. "On the Use of Fines and Lottery Prizes to Increase Voter Turnout," Working Papers 494, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2013.

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