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School Choice: An Experimental Study

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  • Yan Chen

    (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor)

  • Tayfun Sönmez

    ()
    (Boston College)

Abstract

We present an experimental study of three school choice mechanisms. The Boston mechanism is influential in practice, while the two alternative mechanisms, the Gale-Shapley and Top Trading Cycles mechanisms, have superior theoretical properties in terms of incentives and efficiency. Consistent with theory, this study indicates a high preference manipulation rate under the Boston mechanism. As a result, efficiency under Boston is significantly lower than that of the two competing mechanisms in the designed environment. However, contrary to theory, Gale-Shapley outperforms the Top Trading Cycles mechanism and generates the highest efficiency. Our results suggest that replacing the Boston mechanism with either Gale-Shapley or Top Trading Cycles mechanism might significantly improve efficiency, however, the efficiency gains are likely to be more profound when parents are educated about the incentive compatibility of these mechanisms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 622.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 20 Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming, Journal of Economic Theory
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:622

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Keywords: school choice; Boston mechanism; mechanism design; Gale-Shapley mechanism; Top Trading Cycles mechanism;

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  1. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Smez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," Discussion Papers 0203-18, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  2. Yan Chen & Tayfun S�nmez, 2002. "Improving Efficiency of On-Campus Housing: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1669-1686, December.
  3. Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "House Allocation with Existing Tenants," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 233-260, October.
  4. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  5. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sonmez, 1998. "Random Serial Dictatorship and the Core from Random Endowments in House Allocation Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 689-702, May.
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