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

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Abstract

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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  • Susan Athey, 2005. "Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Theory and Evidence from Timber Auctions," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000098, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:uclatw:658612000000000098
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    1. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    2. Hansen, Robert G, 1986. "Sealed-Bid versus Open Auctions: The Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(1), pages 125-142, January.
    3. Milgrom,Paul, 2004. "Putting Auction Theory to Work," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521536721, May.
    4. Harry J. Paarsch & Bjarne Brendstrup, 2004. "Nonparametric Identification and Estimation of Multi-Unit, Sequential, Oral, Ascending-Price Auctions With Asymmetric Bidders," Working Papers 2004.11, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    5. Philip A. Haile & Han Hong & Matthew Shum, 2003. "Nonparametric Tests for Common Values in First-Price Sealed-Bid Auctions," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1445, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    6. 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.
    7. Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Martin Pesendorfer, 2003. "Estimation of a Dynamic Auction Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1443-1489, September.
    8. Patrick Bajari & Lixin Ye, 2003. "Deciding Between Competition and Collusion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 971-989, November.
    9. Eric Maskin & John Riley, 2000. "Asymmetric Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 413-438.
    10. Porter, Robert H & Zona, J Douglas, 1993. "Detection of Bid Rigging in Procurement Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 518-538, June.
    11. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin, 2001. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 375-417, April.
    12. 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 657-699, August.
    13. Berry, Steven T, 1992. "Estimation of a Model of Entry in the Airline Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 889-917, July.
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    17. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, 1990. "Entry in Monopoly Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 531-553.
    18. 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.
    19. 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.
    20. Martin Pesendorfer, 2000. "A Study of Collusion in First-Price Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 381-411.
    21. 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, January.
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    23. Guerre, E. & Perrigne, I. & Vuong, Q., 1995. "Nonparametric Estimation of First-Price Auctions," Papers 9504, Southern California - Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q23 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Forestry
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions

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