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Premium Auctions and Risk Preferences: An Experimental Study

  • Brunner, Christoph
  • Hu, Audrey
  • Oechssler, Jörg

In premium auctions, the highest losing bidder receives a reward from the seller. This paper studies the private value English premium auction (EPA) for different risk attitudes of bidders. We explicitly derive the symmetric equilibrium for bidders with CARA utilities and conduct an experimental study to test the theoretical predictions. In our experiment, subjects are sorted into risk-averse and risk loving groups. We find that revenues in the EPA are significantly higher when bidders are risk loving rather than risk averse. These results are partly consistent with theory and confirm the general view that bidders’ risk preferences constitute an important factor that affects bidding behavior and consequently also the seller’s expected revenue. However, individual subjects rarely follow the equilibrium strategy and as a result, revenue in our experiment is lower than in the symmetric equilibrium.

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Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0544.

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Date of creation: 03 Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0544
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  1. Dirk Bergemann & Stephen Morris, 2005. "Robust Mechanism Design," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 666156000000000593, www.najecon.org.
  2. Audrey Hu & Steven A. Matthews & Liang Zou, 2009. "Risk Aversion and Optimal Reserve Prices in First and Second-Price Auctions," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-016, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Audrey Hu & Steven A. Matthews & Liang Zou, 2009. "Risk Aversion and Optimal Reserve Prices in First and Second-Price Auctions, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 10-001, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 03 Jan 2010.
  4. Kagel, John H & Harstad, Ronald M & Levin, Dan, 1987. "Information Impact and Allocation Rules in Auctions with Affiliated Private Values: A Laboratory Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1275-1304, November.
  5. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 2003. "Uniqueness of Equilibrium in Sealed High-Bid Auctions," Economics Working Papers 0031, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  6. Klemperer, Paul, 2000. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," CEPR Discussion Papers 2581, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. Ben Greiner, 2004. "The Online Recruitment System ORSEE - A Guide for the Organization of Experiments in Economics," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2003-10, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  9. Jacob K. Goeree & Theo Offerman, 2004. "Notes and Comments the Amsterdam Auction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 281-294, 01.
  10. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
  11. Athey, S., 1997. "Sigle Crossing Properties and the Existence of Pure Strategy Equilibria in Games of Incomplete Information," Working papers 97-11, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. Selten, Reinhard & Stoecker, Rolf, 1986. "End behavior in sequences of finite Prisoner's Dilemma supergames A learning theory approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 47-70, March.
  13. Steven A. Matthews, 1985. "Comparing Auctions for Risk Averse Buyers: A Buyer's Pointof View," Discussion Papers 664R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Hu, Audrey & Offerman, Theo & Onderstal, Sander, 2011. "Fighting collusion in auctions: An experimental investigation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 84-96, January.
  15. Coppinger, Vicki M & Smith, Vernon L & Titus, Jon A, 1980. "Incentives and Behavior in English, Dutch and Sealed-Bid Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(1), pages 1-22, January.
  16. Ben Greiner, 2004. "The Online Recruitment System ORSEE 2.0 - A Guide for the Organization of Experiments in Economics," Working Paper Series in Economics 10, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
  17. Ian Ayres & Peter Cramton, 1996. "Deficit Reduction Through Diversity: How Affirmative Action at the FCC Increased Auction Competition," Papers of Peter Cramton 96slr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  18. Hu, Audrey & Offerman, Theo & Zou, Liang, 2011. "Premium auctions and risk preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(6), pages 2420-2439.
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521536721 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  21. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521551847 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Cox, James C. & Smith, Vernon L. & Walker, James M., 1982. "Auction market theory of heterogeneous bidders," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 319-325.
  23. Cox, James C & Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1988. " Theory and Individual Behavior of First-Price Auctions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 61-99, March.
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