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A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities

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  • Christopher Avery
  • Mark Glickman
  • Caroline Hoxby
  • Andrew Metrick

Abstract

We show how to construct a ranking of U.S. undergraduate programs based on students' revealed preferences. We construct examples of national and regional rankings, using hand-collected data on 3,240 high- achieving students. Our statistical model extends models used for ranking players in tournaments, such as chess or tennis. When a student makes his matriculation decision among colleges that have admitted him, he chooses which college "wins" in head-to-head competition. The model exploits the information contained in thousands of these wins and losses. Our method produces a ranking that would be difficult for a college to manipulate. In contrast, it is easy to manipulate the matriculation rate and the admission rate, which are the common measures of preference that receive substantial weight in highly publicized college rating systems. If our ranking were used in place of these measures, the pressure on colleges to practice strategic admissions would be relieved.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10803.

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Date of creation: Oct 2004
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Publication status: published as Christopher N. Avery & Mark E. Glickman & Caroline M. Hoxby & Andrew Metrick, 2013. "A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 425-467.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10803

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  1. James Monks & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1999. "The Impact of US News and World Report College Rankings on Admission Outcomes and Pricing Decisions at Selective Private Institutions," NBER Working Papers 7227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Christopher Avery & Caroline Minter Hoxby, 2004. "Do and Should Financial Aid Packages Affect Students' College Choices?," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 239-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Miguel Portela & Nelson Areal & Carla Sá & Fernando Alexandre & João Cerjeira & Ana Carvalho & Artur Rodrigues, 2007. "Regulation and marketisation in the Portuguese higher education system," NIPE Working Papers, NIPE - Universidade do Minho 11/2007, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  2. Matilde P. Machado, & Ricardo Mora & Antonio Romero- Medina, 2006. "A Methodology To Measure Hospital Quality Using Physicians' Choices Over Training Vacancies," Economics Working Papers we060201, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  3. William N. Goetzmann & Sharon Oster, 2012. "Competition Among University Endowments," NBER Working Papers 18173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Moul, Charles C. & Nye, John V.C., 2009. "Did the Soviets collude? A statistical analysis of championship chess 1940-1978," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 10-21, May.
  5. E. Han Kim & Min Zhu, 2010. "Universities as Firms: The Case of US Overseas Programs," NBER Chapters, in: American Universities in a Global Market, pages 163-201 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Benjamin Wirth, 2013. "Ranking German regions using interregional migration - What does internal migration tells us about regional well-being?," ERSA conference papers ersa13p1254, European Regional Science Association.
  7. Matilde P. Machado & Ricardo Mora & Antonio Romero-Medina, 2012. "Can We Infer Hospital Quality From Medical Graduates’ Residency Choices?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(6), pages 1400-1424, December.
  8. Mumcu, Ayse & Saglam, Ismail, 2007. "College Admissions under Early Decision," MPRA Paper 1906, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Chade, H. & Lewis, Gregory & Smith, L., 2014. "Student Portfolios and the College Admissions Problem," Scholarly Articles 12363836, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Katja Maria Kaufmann & Matthias Messner & Alex Solis, 2013. "Returns to Elite Higher Education in the Marriage Market: Evidence from Chile," Working Papers 489, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  11. Pawan Agarwal, 2006. "Higher Education in India - The Need for Change," Development Economics Working Papers 22139, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.

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