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Set-Asides and Subsidies in Auctions

Author

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  • Susan Athey
  • Dominic Coey
  • Jonathan Levin

Abstract

Set-asides and subsidies are used extensively in government procurement and resource sales. We analyze these policies in an empirical model of US Forest Service timber auctions. The model fits the data well both within the sample of unrestricted sales used for estimation, and when we predict (out-of-sample) outcomes for small business set-asides. Our estimates suggest that restricting entry substantially reduces efficiency and revenue, although it increases small business participation. An alternative policy of subsidizing small bidders would increase revenue and small bidder profit, with little efficiency cost. We explain these findings by connecting to the theory of optimal auction design. (JEL D44, H57, L73, Q23)

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Athey & Dominic Coey & Jonathan Levin, 2013. "Set-Asides and Subsidies in Auctions," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 1-27, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:1-27
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.5.1.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Emmanuel Guerre & Isabelle Perrigne & Quang Vuong, 2000. "Optimal Nonparametric Estimation of First-Price Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(3), pages 525-574, May.
    2. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1989. "Government procurement and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 291-308, May.
    3. Philip A. Haile & Han Hong & Matthew Shum, 2003. "Nonparametric Tests for Common Values at First-Price Sealed-Bid Auctions," NBER Working Papers 10105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin & Enrique Seira, 2004. "Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Theory and Evidence from Timber Auctions," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000524, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Milgrom,Paul, 2004. "Putting Auction Theory to Work," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521536721, December.
    6. Tong Li, 2005. "Econometrics of first-price auctions with entry and binding reservation prices," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 173-200, May.
    7. Philip A. Haile, 2001. "Auctions with Resale Markets: An Application to U.S. Forest Service Timber Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 399-427, June.
    8. Susan Athey & Philip A. Haile, 2002. "Identification of Standard Auction Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2107-2140, November.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • L73 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Forest Products
    • Q23 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Forestry

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