Wikipedia states:

When the auction involves a single item for sale and each participant has as an independent private value for the item auctioned, the expected payment and expected revenues of an English auction is theoretically equivalent to that of the Vickrey auction, and both mechanisms have weakly dominant strategies.[1] Both the Vickrey and English auction, although very different procedurally, award the item to the bidder with the highest value at a price equal to the value of the second highest bidder.[2]

In an English auction, the object goes to the highest bidder who pays at the price they proposed.

In a Vickrey auction, the object goes to the highest bidder, who pays at the second-highest price.

Given this, how are they "equivalent" to each other? The only thing common between the two, per my understanding, is that the highest bidder always wins.

My guess is that, in an English auction, when the second-highest bidder eventually places a bid (say b0) corresponding to their max affordable value, the highest bidder can place another bid ever so slightly higher (say b1). The object is then sold at b1.

In a Vickrey auction, the highest bidder would pay b0.

Since b0 is almost equal to b1, I imagine that's where the equivalence comes from.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's correct. A couple of nuances: in some English auctions, the auctioneer can choose the increment by which to raise the price. The greater this increment, the greater the theoretical difference with a Vickrey auction. Also, although the outcome is effectively the same, an English auction gives you information about the other players' values; this could be useful if there are multiple items for sale, for example. In a Vickrey auction, the bids are private. $\endgroup$
    – Théophile
    Jan 14, 2021 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


Because in the Vickrey auction, each bidder is bidding their value (since it is a closed auction), whereas in the English open auction, the winning bidder has bid a price just at-or-above the second-highest value (instead of bidding their value which is the highest).


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .