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On the Concentration of Allocations and Comparisons of Auctions in Large Economies

  • Matthew O. Jackson

    (California Institute of Technology)

  • Ilan Kremer

    (Stanford University)

We analyze competitive pressures in a sequence of auctions with a growing number of bidders, in a model that includes private and common valuations as special cases. We show that the key determinant of bidders' surplus (and implicitly auction revenue) is how the goods are distributed. In any setting and sequence of auctions where the allocation of good(s) is concentrated among a shrinking proportion of the population, the winning bidders enjoy no surplus in the limit. If instead the good(s) are allocated in a dispersed manner so that a non- vanishing proportion of the bidders obtain objects, then in any of a wide class of auctions bidders enjoy a surplus that is bounded away from zero. Moreover, under dispersed allocations, the format of the auction matters. If bidders have constant marginal utilities for objects up to some limit, then uniform price auctions lead to higher revenue than discriminatory auctions. If agents have decreasing marginal utilities for objects, then uniform price auctions are asymptotically efficient, while discriminatory auctions are asymptotically {\sl in}efficient. Finally, we show that in some cases where dispersed allocations are efficient, revenue may increase by bundling goods at the expense of efficiency.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 0211004.

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Date of creation: 04 Nov 2002
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0211004
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