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Comparing open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Evidence from Timber Auctions

  • Susan Athey
  • Jonathan Levin
  • Enrique Seira

We study entry and bidding patterns in sealed bid and open auctions. Using data from the U.S. Forest Service timber auctions, we document a set of systematic effects: sealed bid auctions attract more small bidders, shift the allocation toward these bidders, and can also generate higher revenue. A private value auction model with endogenous participation can account for these qualitative effects of auction format. We estimate the model's parameters and show that it can explain the quantitative effects as well. We then use the model to assess bidder competitiveness, which has important consequences for auction design. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 126 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 207-257

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:1:p:207-257
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  1. Philip A. Haile & Elie Tamer, 2003. "Inference with an Incomplete Model of English Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 1-51, February.
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  3. Marshall, R.C. & Richard J.F., 1995. "Bider Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Papers 7-95-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  4. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin, 1999. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," NBER Working Papers 7185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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