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The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests

Author

Listed:
  • Benny Moldovanu
  • Aner Sela

Abstract

We study a contest with multiple, nonidentical prizes. Participants are privately informed about a parameter (ability) affecting their costs of effort. The contestant with the highest effort wins the first prize, the contestant with the second-highest effort wins the second prize, and so on until all the prizes are allocated. The contest's designer maximizes expected effort. When cost functions are linear or concave in effort, it is optimal to allocate the entire prize sum to a single "first" prize. When cost functions are convex, several positive prizes may be optimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:3:p:542-558
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.3.542
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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