Auctions with Resale When Private Values Are Uncertain: Evidence from the Lab and Field

Andreas Lange, John A. List, Michael K. Price

NBER Working Paper No. 16360
Issued in September 2010
NBER Program(s):Industrial Organization

Auction theory represents one of the richest areas of research in economics over the past three decades. Yet, whether, and to what extent, the introduction of secondary resale markets influences bidding behavior in sealed bid first-price auctions remains under researched. This study begins by examining field data from a unique data set that includes nearly 3,000 auctions (over 10,000 individual bids) for cutting rights of standing timber in British Columbia from 1996-2000. In comparing bidding patterns across agents who are likely to have resale opportunities with those who likely do not, we find evidence that is consistent with theory. Critical evaluation of the reduced-form bidding model, however, reveals that sharp tests of the theoretical predictions are not possible because several other differences may exist across these bidder types. We therefore use a laboratory experiment to examine if the resale opportunity by itself can have the predicted theoretical effect. We find that while it does have the predicted effect, a theoretical model based on risk-averse bidders explains the overall data patterns more accurately than a model based on risk-neutral bidders. Beyond testing theory, the paper highlights the inferential power of combining naturally occurring data with laboratory data.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16360

Published: Lange, Andreas & List, John A. & Price, Michael K., 2011. "Auctions with resale when private values are uncertain: Evidence from the lab and field," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 54-64, January. citation courtesy of

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