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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. "Introduction to Auctions: Theory and Practice
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  2. Matthew Shum, 2000. "Nonparametric Tests for Common Values," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1598, Econometric Society.
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  12. Marshall, R.C. & Richard J.F., 1995. "Bider Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Papers 7-95-3, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin & Enrique Seira, 2011. "Comparing open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Evidence from Timber Auctions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 207-257.
  16. Donald W. K. Andrews, 1997. "A Conditional Kolmogorov Test," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1097-1128, September.
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  18. 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.
  19. Susan Athey & Philip A. Haile, 2002. "Identification of Standard Auction Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2107-2140, November.
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  22. Susan Athey, 2005. "Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Theory and Evidence from Timber Auctions," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000098, UCLA Department of Economics.
  23. 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.
  24. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin, 1999. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," Working papers 99-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "Survey of Auction Theory, from Auctions: Theory and Practice
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  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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