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In recent auctions for paging licenses, the Federal Communications Commission has granted businesses owned by minorities and women substantial bidding credits. In this article, Professors Ayres and Cramton analyze a particular auction and argue that the affirmative action bidding preferences, by increasing competition among auction participants, increased the government's revenue by $45 million. Subsidizing the participation of new bidders can induce established bidders to bid more aggressively. The authors conclude that this revenue-enhancing effect does not provide a sufficient constitutional justification for affirmative action—but when such justification is independently present, affirmative actions can cost the government much less than is currently thought.
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