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In a (first price) all-pay auction, bidders simultaneously submit bids for an item. All players forfeit their bids, and the high bidder receives the item. This auction is widely used in economics to model rent seeking, R&D races, political contests, and job promotion tournaments. We fully characterize equilibrium for this class of games, and show that the set of equilibria is much larger than has been recognized in the literature. When there are more than two players, for instance, we show that even when the auction is symmetric there exists a continuum of asymmetric equilibria. Moreover, for economically important configurations of valuations, there is no revenue equivalence across the equilibria; asymmetric equilibria imply higher expected revenues than the symmetric equilibrium.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Economic Theory, volume 8, issue 2, 1996 following peer review. This article may not exactly replicate the final published version.

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