Set-Asides and Subsidies in Auctions

American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 2013, 5(1): 1–27
Set-Asides and Subsidies in Auctions
Susan Athey, Dominic Coey, Jonathan Levin

Set-asides and subsidies are used extensively in government procurement and resource sales. We analyze these policies in an empirical model of US Forest Service timber auctions.

The model fits the data well both within the sample of unrestricted sales used for estimation, and when we predict (out-of-sample) outcomes for small business set-asides. Our estimates suggest that restricting entry substantially reduces efficiency and revenue, although it increases small business participation.

An alternative policy of subsidizing small bidders would increase revenue and small bidder profit, with little efficiency cost. We explain these findings by connecting to the theory of optimal auction design. (JEL D44, H57, L73, Q23)

Another publication from the same category: Machine Learning and Data Science

WWW '17 Perth Australia April 2017

Drawing Sound Conclusions from Noisy Judgments

David Goldberg, Andrew Trotman, Xiao Wang, Wei Min, Zongru Wan

The quality of a search engine is typically evaluated using hand-labeled data sets, where the labels indicate the relevance of documents to queries. Often the number of labels needed is too large to be created by the best annotators, and so less accurate labels (e.g. from crowdsourcing) must be used. This introduces errors in the labels, and thus errors in standard precision metrics (such as P@k and DCG); the lower the quality of the judge, the more errorful the labels, consequently the more inaccurate the metric. We introduce equations and algorithms that can adjust the metrics to the values they would have had if there were no annotation errors.

This is especially important when two search engines are compared by comparing their metrics. We give examples where one engine appeared to be statistically significantly better than the other, but the effect disappeared after the metrics were corrected for annotation error. In other words the evidence supporting a statistical difference was illusory, and caused by a failure to account for annotation error.