Cornell University

During the fall semester, in-person concerts, events and lectures that involve outside guests will not be held, per the university’s COVID-19 travel and visitor policy.

Joint Industrial Organization & Econometrics Workshop: Shoshana Vasserman

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 11:30am to 1:00pm

Virtual Event

Shoshana Vasserman, Stanford University GSB

Scaling Auctions as Insurance:  A Case Study in Infrastructure Procurement (joint w/Valentin Bolotnyy)

Abstract:  Most U.S. government spending on highways and bridges is done through “scaling” procurement auctions, in which private construction firms submit unit price bids for each piece of material required to complete a project. Using data on bridge maintenance projects undertaken by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), we present evidence that firm bidding behavior in this context is consistent with optimal skewing under risk aversion: firms limit their risk exposure by placing lower unit bids on items with greater uncertainty. We estimate bidders’ risk aversion, the risk in each auction, and the distribution of bidders’ private costs. Simulating equilibrium item-level bids under counterfactual settings, we estimate the fraction of project spending that is due to risk and evaluate auction mechanisms under consideration by policymakers. We find that scaling auctions provide substantial savings relative to lump sum auctions and show how our framework can be used to evaluate alternative auction designs.

Dial-In Information

If you are interested participating in this seminar, please email Ulrike Kroeller at for Zoom information.

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Event Type

Seminar, Class/ Workshop




economics, EconSeminar, EconMetrics, EconIO

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Ulrike Kroeller


Shoshana Vasserman

Speaker Affiliation

Stanford University GSB

Open To

Cornell Economics Community - List Serve Members