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Demand reduction in a multi-unit auctions with varying numbers of bidders: Theory and evidence from a field experiment

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  • Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans
  • John List
  • David Reiley

Abstract

Auction theory has recently revealed that multi-unit uniform-price auctions, such as those used by the U.S. Treasury for debt sales, entail demand-reduction incentives that can cause inefficient allocations. Recent experimental results show that bidders do indeed strategically reduce their bids in uniform-price auctions. The present paper extends this work, both theoretically and experimentally, to consider the effects of varying numbers of bidders. We derive several theoretical predictions, including the result that demand reduction should decrease with increasing numbers of bidders, though some demand reduction remains even in the asymptotic limit. We then examine the bidding behavior of subjects in this environment by auctioning dozens of Cal Ripken, Jr. baseball cards using both uniform-price and Vickrey auction formats. The field data are broadly consistent with the theoretical predictions of our model: most notably, demand reduction on second-unit bids becomes much smaller and harder to detect as the number of bidders increases.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & John List & David Reiley, 2006. "Demand reduction in a multi-unit auctions with varying numbers of bidders: Theory and evidence from a field experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00147, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00147
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christie, Andrew A., 1990. "Aggregation of test statistics : An evaluation of the evidence on contracting and size hypotheses," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1-3), pages 15-36, January.
    2. List, John A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1998. "Calibration of the difference between actual and hypothetical valuations in a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 193-205, October.
    3. Engelbrecht-Wiggans, Richard, 1999. "An example of multi-unit auctions with atypically many equilibria," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 67-69, October.
    4. David Lucking-Reiley & John A. List, 2000. "Demand Reduction in Multiunit Auctions: Evidence from a Sportscard Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 961-972, September.
    5. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
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