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Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Evidence from Timber Auctions

  • Susan Athey

    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

  • Jonathan Levin

    ()

    (Stanford University)

  • Enrique Seira

    (Stanford University)

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 show that a private value auction model with endogenous participation can account for these qualitative effects of auction format. We estimate the model's parameters and show that it 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 Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-012.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-012
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  1. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "Survey of Auction Theory, from Auctions: Theory and Practice
    [Auctions: Theory and Practice]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  2. Susan Athey, 2005. "Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Theory and Evidence from Timber Auctions," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000098, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "Auctions: Theory and Practice," Economics Papers 2004-W09, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  4. Susan Athey & Philip A. Haile, 2002. "Identification of Standard Auction Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2107-2140, November.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Harry J. Paarsch & Bjarne Brendstrup, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Dutch and First-Price, Sealed-Bid Auction Models with Asymmetric Bidders," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 39, Econometric Society.
  9. Pesendorfer, Martin, 2000. "A Study of Collusion in First-Price Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 381-411, July.
  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 518-38, June.
  11. Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Martin Pesendorfer, 2001. "Estimation of a Dynamic Auction Game," NBER Working Papers 8626, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Philip Haile, 2000. "Inference with an Incomplete Model of English Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1546, Econometric Society.
  13. 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.
  14. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "Introduction to Auctions: Theory and Practice
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  15. Patrick Bajari & Ali Hortacsu, 2000. "Winner's Curse, Reserve Prices and Endogenous Entry: Empirical Insights from eBay Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1927, Econometric Society.
  16. 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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  18. Donald W.K. Andrews, 1996. "A Conditional Kolmogorov Test," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1111R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  19. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin & Enrique Seira, 2008. "Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Evidence from Timber Auctions," Discussion Papers 08-012, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  20. Robert H. Porter & J. Douglas Zona, 1999. "Ohio School Milk Markets: An Analysis of Bidding," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 263-288, Summer.
  21. Marshall, R.C. & Richard J.F., 1995. "Bider Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Papers 7-95-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  22. Emmanuel Guerre & Isabelle Perrigne & Quang Vuong, 2000. "Optimal Nonparametric Estimation of First-Price Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(3), pages 525-574, May.
  23. Guerre, E. & Perrigne, I. & Vuong, Q., 1995. "Nonparametric Estimation of First-Price Auctions," Papers 9504, Southern California - Department of Economics.
  24. Lance Brannman & Luke M. Froeb, 2000. "Mergers, Cartels, Set-Asides, and Bidding Preferences in Asymmetric Oral Auctions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(2), pages 283-290, May.
  25. Matthew Shum, 2000. "Nonparametric Tests for Common Values," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1598, Econometric Society.
  26. Tong Li & Xiaoyong Zheng, 2006. "Entry and competition effects in first-price auctions: theory and evidence from procurement auctions," CeMMAP working papers CWP13/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  27. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "What Really Matters in Auction Design, from Auctions: Theory and Practice
    [Auctions: Theory and Practice]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  28. Tong Li, 2005. "Econometrics of first-price auctions with entry and binding reservation prices," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 173-200, May.
  29. 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.
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