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Prediction Markets: An Extended Literature Review

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Prediction Markets: An Extended Literature Review

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This paper presents an attempt to study and monitor the evolution of research on prediction markets (PM). It provides an extended literature review and classification scheme. The former consists of 155 articles, published between 1990 and 2006. The results show that an increasing volume of PM research has been conducted in a very diverse range of areas. The articles are further classified and the results of this classification are presented, based on a scheme that consists of four main categories: description, theoretical work, applications, and law and politics. A comprehensive list of references concludes this literature review. It is the authors' intention to provide an expedient source for anyone interested in PM research and motivate further interest.
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Prediction Markets: An Extended Literature Review
Georgios Tziralis and Ilias Tatsiopoulos
Sector of Industrial Management and Operational Research
School of Mechanical Engineering
National Technical University of Athens
(final draft)
ABSTRACT
This paper presents an attempt to study and monitor the evolution of research on prediction markets (PM). It
provides an extended literature review and classification scheme. The former consists of 152 articles,
published between 1991 and 2006. The results show that an increasing volume of PM research has been
conducted in a very diverse range of areas. The articles are further classified and the results of this
classification are presented, based on a scheme that consists of four main categories: description, theoretical
work, applications, and law and politics. A comprehensive list of references concludes this literature review.
It is the authors’ intention to provide an expedient source for anyone interested in PM research and motivate
further interest.
INTRODUCTION
PM emerged fairly recently as a promising forecasting mechanism able to handle efficiently the dynamic
aggregation of dispersed information among various agents. The interest that this mechanism attracts seems
to be increasing at a steady rate, in terms of both business interest and academic work. This review surveys
and examines relevant existing literature and its trends, while it is also designed to provide a unique starting
point for the further study of PM literature.
While there is no universally accepted terminology and definition of PM, the following definition is used,
based on that given by Berg and Rietz [16]: Prediction markets are defined as markets that are designed and
run for the primary purpose of mining and aggregating information scattered among traders and subsequently
using this information in the form of market values in order to make predictions about specific future events.
PM is an exciting area for research, partly because of its novelty and the exploding growth of interest in it.
This paper presents a comprehensive review and classification of the literature on PM research, starting from
its introduction and the first applications of the PM concept in the early nineties [88, 70, 51] up until the
writing of this paper. The scheme used represents the authors’ view of the focus and direction of PM
research and reveals a rapid growth in the number of published articles. The current state and direction of
research topics should be of interest to many and we hope that this review will serve as a roadmap of PM for
both academics and practitioners.
The paper is organized as follows. Firstly, the research methodology is described, followed by a commentary
on the current – and diverse – terminology existing in the PM field , along with the evolution and growth of
the literature and research itself. Subsequently, a classification method is introduced and its results are
analysed. The article finally concludes by presenting research implications and an extended list of PM
references.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This survey is the outcome of an attempt to collect and study the totality of PM related academic work. Thus
far, no relevant literature review could be identified. Hitherto, there existed, for example, no publication
outlet dedicated exclusively to PM research. Therefore, the inclusion of every potential source of academic
knowledge dissemination was essential.
As a result, all journal articles, conference proceedings papers, books or book chapters, master’s theses,
doctoral dissertations or other unpublished academic working papers and reports that are referring to the
concept of PM were collected, studied and are cited herein. The search was conducted mostly through the
World Wide Web, as well as electronic libraries and academic databases. The literature review finally
resulted in identifying 152 articles, which are classified by type of publication as shown in Table 1. By its
very nature, this review could therefore be characterised as extended but by no means as exhaustive.
Nevertheless, it serves as a comprehensive basis for understanding PM research.
Table 1: Number of articles per type of publication
Type of publication Number of articles
Journal articles 55 (36%)
Books & book chapters 22 (14%)
Conference proceedings 15 (10%)
Masters theses & doctoral dissertations 7 (5%)
Working papers, reports & unpublished work 53 (35%)
Total 152 (100%)
TERMINOLOGY
PM is not a unique and globally adopted descriptor of the concept and mechanism that was defined
previously. On the contrary, the terminology used to address this concept is rather wide. The literature search
was based on the following five more usual and relevant descriptors: “prediction markets”, “information
markets”, “decision markets”, “electronic markets” and “virtual markets”. Moreover, the references of each
article found were further examined as to identify relevant citations that use perhaps another descriptor. The
full text of each article was then reviewed to eliminate those articles that were not actually related to PM.
The final selection of 152 articles was then classified on the basis of the prevalent descriptor used in each
article to describe the concept of PM. The distribution is depicted in Figure 1. Other descriptors which were
identified during the research, include “political stock markets” [23, 24, 27, 50, 51, 68, 82, 98, 104],
“election stock markets” [8, 28, 48, 49, 52, 87, 88], “artificial markets” [112, 113, 114] and “idea futures”
[69, 108].
Number of articles per term
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Prediction
markets
Information
markets
Decision
markets
Electronic
markets
Virtual markets Other
Figure 1: Number of articles per term used to describe the concept of PM
It becomes clear that the terminology used to describe the same concept is very diverse and extensive. This
fact could lead to the division of the PM society and research at a very early stage of its development and
makes the agreement on globally accepted and standardised terminology all the more important, the authors
argue.
EARLY WORKS AND EVOLUTION
The very first application of the PM mechanism, the Iowa Electronic Markets, was initiated in 1988 and
originally designed to predict the outcome of US presidential elections [51]. The first academic works on the
concept appeared few years later. In 1992, Forsythe, Nelson, Neumann and Wright presented a description of
the Iowa Electronic Markets [51], while Hanson offered in the same year the first introductory article on the
notion of PM [69].
The early works of the nineties focused mainly on political stock markets applications. Aside from the papers
on the most popular PM, the Iowa Electronic Markets [51, 50, 15, 17, 52], other election markets were
described and analysed, like the one founded as early as 1990 in Germany [88, 11] as well as others in
Canada [8, 48, 49], Austria [104, 98] and Sweden [24]. Ortner also made important contributions to the field
with his doctoral dissertation in 1996 [101] and the description of PM’s first application as a business tool by
Siemens Austria in 1997 [102, 103].
PM literature up until 1998 is limited to mainly those above-mentioned articles. In the following years
however, this survey witnesses a significant increase in the amount of PM literature. The publication trend,
as depicted in Figure 2, could be roughly described as being of exponential growth: the number of relevant
articles in 2002 corresponded to 14, increased to 22 during 2004, while in the first 8 months of 2006 there
were already 34 published articles.
Number of articles per year
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Figure 2: Publication trend
Among these most recent articles it is of paramount importance to mention the pioneering work of Pennock
on a dynamic pari-mutuel market framework [110] and of Hanson on combinatorial market design [72].
Other equally significant contributions, both in terms of citations and implications, were made by Spann and
Skiera [133], Wolfers and Zitzewitz [147] and Berg and Rietz [19] among others. This substantial increase of
literature makes the need for further classification of articles in terms of their nature of PM research
indispensable. This need is addressed in the following section.
CLASSIFICATION METHOD
The classification framework, shown in Figure 3, was based on the literature review and the nature of PM
research. The papers were classified into four broad categories: (a) description, (b) theoretical work, (c)
applications and (d) law and policy; and each category is further divided into subcategories. It has to be
stated, however, that this framework is designed to be rather practical than strictly documentary, serving as a
navigation tool for researchers. Each paper was assigned to the category that describes most accurately the
core of its PM relevant contents alone. The categories’ breakdown is described hereafter.
Figure 3: Classification of topics in PM literature
(a) Description
This category covers descriptive literature on PM research, including introductory texts, general description,
open questions, etc.
1. Introduction: This subcategory contains mostly short and rudimental texts on the basics of
PM, which are often a subsidiary topic of the publication.
2. General description: The subcategory covers lengthy and detailed articles that usually
address the analysis of a variety of aspects on PM.
3. Open problems: This consists of works that highlight issues which have yet to be addressed
by the literature in a fully satisfactory way.
4. Other descriptive issues: This subcategory contains papers that discuss other descriptive
issues on PM, such as taxonomy, its potential use in education and other fields.
(b) Theoretical work
The literature in this category includes papers of theoretical nature and is divided into the following three
areas:
1. Market modeling: This contains various texts dealing with aspects on PM modeling,
framework design and analysis.
2. Information aggregation convergence and equilibrium: The subcategory consists of papers
discussing the convergence and equilibrium properties of the information aggregation
process that is hosted by PM.
3. Other theoretical issues: This includes works on other theoretical issues that could not be
assigned to the previous two subcategories, such as the interpretation of PM prices.
(c) Applications
This broad category includes the totality of papers describing or analysing applications of the PM concept,
either of experimental or practical nature.
1. Experiments: This is comprised of various experimental applications of the PM concept,
held in academic or some other environment.
2. Iowa Electronic Markets: The subcategory contains all the papers that focus on the
description and analysis of results of the Iowa Electronic Markets.
3. Other political markets: This covers all the literature referring to political stock markets
applications, with the exception of the Iowa Electronic Markets. The references include
political stock markets in Germany, Canada, Austria, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia and
Taiwan.
4. Markets on sport events: This subcategory comprises of articles of PM applications in
various sport events. Comparisons of real-money and play-money markets are also included
in this subcategory.
5. Other applications: The subcategory contains the rest of applications that could not be
assigned to any of the previous ones and includes among others business and entertainment
web games applications.
6.
(d) Law and Policy
This last category consists of law and policy literature on PM research.
1. Legality and regulation: This subcategory is comprised of papers referring to aspects on the
legality of PM and provides directions for their regulation.
2. Public policy and decision making: The works of this subcategory address the potential of
PM in improving policy analysis and public decision making.
3. The Policy Analysis Market: This covers all the literature describing the Policy Analysis
Market, a PM application that was designed to support policy analysis on sensitive political
issues, such us international affairs and terrorism.
4. Other law and policy issues: This subcategory covers other law and policy aspects on PM.
CLASSIFICATION RESULTS
The 152 papers found were classified according to the above mentioned model. The distribution of articles
by topics is shown in Figure 4. The majority of published research concerns the applications of PM (72
articles, 47%), whereas 33 articles (22%) were to found to be mainly of descriptive nature and 27 (18%) of
theoretical nature.
Number of articles per topic
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Description Theoretical work Applications Law & Policy
Figure 4: Classification results of PM literature
Table 2 lists the number of description articles. 40% (13 articles) were general descriptions to the concept of
PM, while 30% (10 articles) were of introductory nature.
Table 2: Number of description articles
Description Number of articles
Introduction 10 (30%)
General description 13 (40%)
Open problems 5 (15%)
Other descriptive issues 5 (15%)
Total 33 (100%)
Table 3 shows the number of articles categorised as theoretical works. The majority of them (16 articles,
59%) refers to market modelling issues, followed by 33% (9 articles) denoting to the study of convergence
and equilibrium properties.
Table 3: Number of theoretical work articles
Theoretical work Number of articles
Market modelling 16 (59%)
Information aggregation convergence &
equilibrium
9 (33%)
Other theoretical issues 2 (7%)
Total 27 (100%)
Table 4 lists the number of articles of each PM application subcategory. 21 articles (29%) were written on
other PM than the Iowa political markets, 16 on Iowa Electronic Markets (22%), 15 on other applications
(21%) and 13 on various experiments (18%).
Table 4: Number of application articles
Applications Number of articles
Experiments 13 (18%)
Iowa Electronic Markets 16 (22%)
Other political markets 21 (29%)
Markets on sport events 7 (10%)
Other applications 15 (21%)
Total 72 (100%)
Table 5 shows the number of articles in law and policy related topics. Public policy and decision making was
the dominant subcategory, as 55% (11 articles) were published on this topic.
Table 5: Number of law and policy articles
Law & Policy Number of articles
Legality & regulation 4 (20%)
Public policy & decision making 11 (55%)
The Policy Analysis Market 4 (20%)
Other law & policy issues 1 (5%)
Total 20 (100%)
Table 6 presents a summary of all reviewed articles and assigns each of them to their respective subcategory.
This is a helpful resource for anyone looking for PM articles in a specific area.
Table 6: Classification of reviewed literature
Reference
(a) Description
Introduction [26, 40, 41, 62, 65, 69, 84, 107, 134, 138]
General description [3, 6, 92, 124, 132, 133, 135, 139, 143, 145,
147, 151, 152]
Open problems [29, 76, 136, 137, 149]
Other descriptive issues [7, 94, 108, 113, 126]
(b) Theoretical work
Market modelling [21, 33, 37, 39, 45, 53, 71, 72, 85, 96, 109, 110,
111, 116, 140, 141]
Information aggregation
convergence & equilibrium
[16, 46, 55, 70, 78, 86, 99, 105, 115]
Other theoretical issues [95, 150]
(c) Applications
Experiments [9, 22, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 79, 83, 89, 117,
121]
Iowa Electronic Markets [14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 44, 50, 51, 52, 54,
87, 100, 106, 120]
Other political markets [8, 11, 23, 24, 27, 28, 47, 48, 49, 68, 80, 81, 82,
88, 91, 98, 101, 104, 119, 144, 146]
Markets on sport events [10, 38, 42, 122, 123, 125, 128]
Other applications [56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 93, 102, 103, 112, 114, 127,
129, 130, 131, 142]
(d) Law & Policy
Legality & regulation [1, 12, 13, 66]
Public policy & decision making [4, 5, 43, 61, 63, 64, 67, 73, 75, 90, 148]
The Policy Analysis Market [74, 77, 97, 118]
Other law & policy issues [2]
CONCLUSIONS AND RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS
As the nature of research on PM is difficult to be limited to specific disciplines and the origin and growth of
the literature is rather recent, the relevant material is scattered across various sources of academic writings.
As a result, the research for this literature review was not focused exclusively on journal articles, but also
extended to conference proceedings papers, books, book chapters, master’s theses, doctoral dissertations and
other unpublished academic working papers and reports. This wide literature survey was undertaken in order
to identify all PM related academic articles from all possible sources of PM research. This resulted in the
identification of 152 PM articles published between 1991 and 2006.
Although this review cannot claim to be exhaustive, it does provide reasonable insights into the state of the
PM research. The authors feel that the results presented in this paper have several important implications.
(a) Undoubtedly, PM research and applications will significantly increase in future.
(b) There is a strong need to standardise the terminology used to refer to the PM concept.
(c) The formation and dissemination of a fully appropriate PM mechanism, such as the dynamic pari-
mutuel presented by Pennock [110], could lead to the expansion of PM research and applications.
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... And surprisingly, analyzing such physical trading floors from 1868 to 1940, they found that the historical prediction markets already showed remarkably forecasting accuracy. The first electronic platform of that kind was launched by the Iowa Electronic Market in 1988 [35,111] . As mentioned in [10] , the primary goal of a trading platform for political events is for forecasting purposes, which is the main difference to classical financial markets. ...
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... And surprisingly, analyzing such physical trading floors from 1868 to 1940, they found that the historical prediction markets already showed remarkably forecasting accuracy. The first electronic platform of that kind was launched by the Iowa Electronic Market in 1988 [35,111]. As mentioned in [10], the primary goal of a trading platform for political events is for forecasting purposes, which is the main difference to classical financial markets. ...
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