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The Bidder's Curse

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  • Ulrike Malmendier
  • Young Han Lee

Abstract

We employ a novel approach to identify overbidding in auctions. We compare online auction prices to fixed prices for the same item on the same webpage. In detailed data on auctions of a board game, 42 percent of auctions exceed the simultaneous fixed price. The result replicates in a broad cross-section of auctions (48 percent overbidding). A small fraction of overbidders, 17 percent of bidders, suffices to generate the large fraction of auctions with overbidding. We show that the observed behavior is inconsistent with rational behavior, even allowing for uncertainty about prices and switching costs, since the expected auction price also exceeds the fixed price. Limited attention best explains our results. (JEL D12, D44)

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrike Malmendier & Young Han Lee, 2011. "The Bidder's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 749-787, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:2:p:749-87
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    Cited by:

    1. Podwol, Joseph Uri & Schneider, Henry S., 2016. "Nonstandard bidder behavior in real-world auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 198-212.
    2. Philippe Jehiel & Laurent Lamy, 2015. "On absolute auctions and secret reserve prices," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 241-270, June.
    3. Dillenberger, David & Rozen, Kareen, 2015. "History-dependent risk attitude," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 445-477.
    4. Kevin Hasker & Robin Sickles, 2010. "eBay in the Economic Literature: Analysis of an Auction Marketplace," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 37(1), pages 3-42, August.
    5. Han, Lu & Strange, William C., 2016. "What is the role of the asking price for a house?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 115-130.
    6. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
    7. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:82-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bolton, Gary E. & Ockenfels, Axel, 2014. "Does laboratory trading mirror behavior in real world markets? Fair bargaining and competitive bidding on eBay," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 143-154.
    9. Lu Han & William C. Strange, 2014. "Bidding Wars for Houses," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 42(1), pages 1-32, March.
    10. Bramsen, Jens-Martin, 2008. "A pseudo-endowment effect in internet auctions," MPRA Paper 14813, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    12. Englmaier, Florian & Schmöller, Arno & Stowasser, Till, 2013. "Price Discontinuities in an online used Car Market," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79982, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Trevon D. Logan & Manisha Shah, 2013. "Face Value: Information and Signaling in an Illegal Market," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 529-564, January.
    14. Philipp Herrmann & Dennis O. Kundisch & Mohammad S. Rahman, 2013. "To Bid or Not to Bid Aggressively? An Empirical Study," Working Papers Dissertations 08, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
    15. Wang, Zhongmin & Xu, Minbo, 2016. "Selling a dollar for more than a dollar? Evidence from online penny auctions," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 53-68.
    16. Lorentziadis, Panos L., 2016. "Optimal bidding in auctions from a game theory perspective," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 248(2), pages 347-371.
    17. Pownall, Rachel A.J. & Wolk, Leonard, 2013. "Bidding behavior and experience in internet auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 14-27.
    18. Shapiro, Dmitry & Zillante, Arthur, 2009. "Naming your own price mechanisms: Revenue gain or drain?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 725-737, November.
    19. Ehrhart, Karl-Martin & Ott, Marion & Abele, Susanne, 2015. "Auction fever: Rising revenue in second-price auction formats," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 206-227.
    20. Hummel, Patrick, 2015. "Simultaneous use of auctions and posted prices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 269-284.
    21. Rahaman, Mohammad M., 2014. "Do managerial behaviors trigger firm exit? The case of hyperactive bidders," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 92-110.
    22. Juanjuan Zhang & Peng Liu, 2012. "Rational Herding in Microloan Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(5), pages 892-912, May.
    23. Dennis Halcoussis & Timothy Mathews, 2007. "eBay auctions for Third Eye Blind concert tickets," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 31(1), pages 65-78, March.
    24. Bramsen, Jens-Martin, 2008. "Bid early and get it cheap - Timing effects in Internet auctions," MPRA Paper 14811, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    25. Schmöller, Arno, 2010. "Bidding Behavior, Seller Strategies, and the Utilization of Information in Auctions for Complex Goods," Munich Dissertations in Economics 11175, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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