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Changing the Boston School Choice Mechanism

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  • Atila Abdulkadiroglu
  • Parag Pathak
  • Alvin E. Roth
  • Tayfun Sonmez

Abstract

In July 2005 the Boston School Committee voted to replace the existing Boston school choice mechanism with a deferred acceptance mechanism that simplifies the strategic choices facing parents. This paper presents the empirical case against the previous Boston mechanism, a priority matching mechanism, and the case in favor of the change to a strategy-proof mechanism. Using detailed records on student choices and assignments, we present evidence both of sophisticated strategic behavior among some parents, and of unsophisticated strategic behavior by others. We find evidence that some parents pay close attention to the capacity constraints of different schools, while others appear not to. In particular, we show that many unassigned students could have been assigned to one of their stated choices with a different strategy under the current mechanism. This interaction between sophisticated and unsophisticated players identifies a new rationale for strategy-proof mechanisms based on fairness, and was a critical argument in Boston's decision to change the mechanism. We then discuss the considerations that led to the adoption of a deferred acceptance mechanism as opposed to the (also strategy-proof) top trading cycles mechanism.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11965.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11965

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  3. Green, Jerry & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1977. "Characterization of Satisfactory Mechanisms for the Revelation of Preferences for Public Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 45(2), pages 427-38, March.
  4. Szilvia Papai, 2000. "Strategyproof Assignment by Hierarchical Exchange," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1403-1434, November.
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  6. Ar. Rubinstein., 2008. "Dilemmas of an Economic Theorist," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 11.
  7. Kelso, Alexander S, Jr & Crawford, Vincent P, 1982. "Job Matching, Coalition Formation, and Gross Substitutes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1483-1504, November.
  8. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sonmez & M. Utku Unver, 2003. "Kidney Exchange," Game Theory and Information, EconWPA 0308002, EconWPA.
  9. Roth, Alvin & Ünver, M. Utku & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2005. "A Kidney Exchange Clearinghouse in New England," Scholarly Articles 2562810, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Salvador Barbera, 1995. "Strategy-Proof Allotment Rules," Discussion Papers, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science 1142, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. John H. Kagel & Alvin E. Roth, 2000. "The Dynamics Of Reorganization In Matching Markets: A Laboratory Experiment Motivated By A Natural Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 201-235, February.
  12. Roth, Alvin E. & Sonmez, Tayfun & Utku Unver, M., 2005. "Pairwise kidney exchange," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 151-188, December.
  13. Roth, Alvin E, 1991. "A Natural Experiment in the Organization of Entry-Level Labor Markets: Regional Markets for New Physicians and Surgeons in the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 415-40, June.
  14. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun S�nmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
  15. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A. Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2003. "The Effect of School Choice on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," NBER Working Papers 10113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  18. Groves, Theodore, 1973. "Incentives in Teams," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 617-31, July.
  19. Muriel Niederle & Alvin E Roth, 2003. "Unraveling Reduces Mobility in a Labor Market: Gastroenterology with and without a Centralized Match," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000428, David K. Levine.
  20. Yan Chen & Tayfun Sönmez, 2004. "School Choice: An Experimental Study," Boston College Working Papers in Economics, Boston College Department of Economics 622, Boston College Department of Economics.
  21. Roth, Alvin E. & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1977. "Weak versus strong domination in a market with indivisible goods," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 131-137, August.
  22. Roth, Alvin E., 1982. "Incentive compatibility in a market with indivisible goods," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 127-132.
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  25. Moulin, Herve, 1994. "Serial Cost-Sharing of Excludable Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 305-25, April.
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  27. Roth, Alvin E, 1984. "The Evolution of the Labor Market for Medical Interns and Residents: A Case Study in Game Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 991-1016, December.
  28. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2005. "The New York City High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 364-367, May.
  29. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu, 2005. "College admissions with affirmative action," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 535-549, November.
  30. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  31. Sprumont, Yves, 1991. "The Division Problem with Single-Peaked Preferences: A Characterization of the Uniform Allocation Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 509-19, March.
  32. Roth,Alvin E. & Sotomayor,Marilda A. Oliveira, 1992. "Two-Sided Matching," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521437882.
  33. Paul Milgrom, 2003. "Matching with Contracts," Working Papers, Stanford University, Department of Economics 03003, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  34. Roth, Alvin E., 1985. "The college admissions problem is not equivalent to the marriage problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 277-288, August.
  35. Alvin E. Roth & Uriel G. Rothblum, 1999. "Truncation Strategies in Matching Markets--In Search of Advice for Participants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 67(1), pages 21-44, January.
  36. Shapley, Lloyd & Scarf, Herbert, 1974. "On cores and indivisibility," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 23-37, March.
  37. Satterthwaite, Mark Allen, 1975. "Strategy-proofness and Arrow's conditions: Existence and correspondence theorems for voting procedures and social welfare functions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 187-217, April.
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