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Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Theory and Evidence from Timber Auctions

  • Susan Athey
  • Jonathan Levin
  • Enrique Seira

We study entry and bidding patterns in sealed bid and open auctions with heterogeneous bidders. Using data from U.S. Forest Service timber auctions, we document a set of systematic effects of auction format: sealed bid auctions attract more small bidders, shift the allocation towards these bidders, and can also generate higher revenue. We propose a model, which extends the theory of private value auctions with heterogeneous bidders to capture participation decisions, that can account for these qualitative effects of auction format. We then calibrate the model using parameters estimated from the data and show that the model can explain the quantitative effects as well. Finally, we use the model to provide an assessment of bidder competitiveness, which has important consequences for auction choice.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 122247000000000524.

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Date of creation: 19 Sep 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:122247000000000524
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  1. Maskin, Eric & Riley, John, 2000. "Asymmetric Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 413-38, July.
  2. Athey,S. & Haile,P.A., 2000. "Identification of standard auction models," Working papers 13, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Harry J. Paarsch & Bjarne Brendstrup, 2004. "Nonparametric Identification and Estimation of Multi-Unit, Sequential, Oral, Ascending-Price Auctions with Asymmetric Bidders," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 2, Econometric Society.
  4. Hansen, Robert G, 1986. "Sealed-Bid versus Open Auctions: The Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(1), pages 125-42, January.
  5. Leandro Arozamena & Estelle Cantillon, 2000. "Investment Incentives in Procurement Auctions," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1276, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. 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.
  7. Patrick Bajari & Lixin Ye, 2001. "Deciding Between Competition and Collusion," Working Papers 01008, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  8. Philip Haile, 2000. "Inference with an Incomplete Model of English Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1546, Econometric Society.
  9. 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.
  10. Robert H. Porter & J. Douglas Zona, 1997. "Ohio School Milk Markets: An Analysis of Bidding," NBER Working Papers 6037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Robert H. Porter & J. Douglas Zona, 1992. "Detection of Bid Rigging in Procurement Auctions," NBER Working Papers 4013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Martin Pesendorfer, 2003. "Estimation of a Dynamic Auction Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1443-1489, 09.
  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. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, 01.
  15. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Reiss, Peter C, 1990. "Entry in Monopoly Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(4), pages 531-53, October.
  16. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  17. Berry, Steven T, 1992. "Estimation of a Model of Entry in the Airline Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 889-917, July.
  18. Baldwin, Laura H & Marshall, Robert C & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1997. "Bidder Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 657-99, August.
  19. Haile, P.A., 1997. "Auctions with Resale Markets: An Application to U.S. Forest Service Timber Sales," Working papers 9702, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  20. Pesendorfer, Martin, 2000. "A Study of Collusion in First-Price Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 381-411, July.
  21. Guerre, E. & Perrigne, I. & Vuong, Q., 1995. "Nonparametric Estimation of First-Price Auctions," Papers 9504, Southern California - Department of Economics.
  22. Matt Shum & Phil Haile & Han Hong, 2003. "Nonparametric Tests for Common Values in First-Price Auctions," Economics Working Paper Archive 501, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  23. Matthew Shum, 2000. "Nonparametric Tests for Common Values," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1598, Econometric Society.
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