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The Generalized War of Attrition


  • Jeremy I. Bulow

    (Yale University & Stanford Business School)

  • Paul Klemperer

    (Nuffield College, Oxford University)


We generalize the War of Attrition model to allow for N + K firms competing for N prizes. Two special cases are of particular interest. First, if firms continue to pay their full costs after dropping out (as in a standard-setting context), each firm's exit time is independent both of K and of the actions of other players. Second, in the limit in which firms pay no costs after dropping out (as in a natural-oligopoly problem), the field is immediately reduced to N + 1 firms. Furthermore, we have perfect sorting, so it is always the K - 1 lowest-value players who drop out in zero time, even though each player's value is private information to the player. We apply our model to politics, explaining the length of time it takes to collect a winning coalition to pass a bill.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy I. Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 1996. "The Generalized War of Attrition," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1142, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1142

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    War of attrition; auctions; standards; natural monopoly; oligopoly; twoness; strategic independence; political decision making;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General


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