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Comparing School Choice Mechanisms by Interim and Ex-Ante Welfare

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  • Peter Troyan

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

Abstract

The Boston mechanism and deferred acceptance (DA) are two competing mechanisms widely used in school choice problems across the United States. Recent work has highlighted welfare gains from the use of the Boston mechanism, in particular finding that when cardinal utility is taken into account, Boston interim Pareto dominates DA in certain incomplete information environments with no school priorities. We show that these previous interim results are not robust to the introduction of nontrivial (weak) priorities. However, we partially restore the earlier results by showing that from an ex-ante utility perspective, the Boston mechanism once again Pareto dominates any strategyproof mechanism (including DA), even allowing for arbitrary priority structures. Thus, we suggest ex-ante Pareto dominance as a criterion by which to compare school choice mechanisms. This criterion may be of interest to school district leaders, as they can be thought of as social planners whose goal is to maximize the overall ex-ante welfare of the students. From a policy perspective, school districts may have justification for the use the Boston mechanism over a strategyproof alternative, even with nontrivial priority structures.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 10-021.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:10-021

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Keywords: school choice; Boston mechanism; deferred acceptance; market design; weak priorities;

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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. Haluk Ergin & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "Games of School Choice under the Boston Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 619, Boston College Department of Economics.
  3. Aytek Erdil & Haluk Ergin, 2008. "What's the Matter with Tie-Breaking? Improving Efficiency in School Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 669-89, June.
  4. Joana Pais & Ágnes Pintér, 2006. "School Choice and Information An Experimental Study on Matching Mechanisms," Working Papers Department of Economics 2006/14, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon.
  5. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun S�nmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
  6. Haluk I. Ergin, 2002. "Efficient Resource Allocation on the Basis of Priorities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2489-2497, November.
  7. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-Proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1954-78, December.
  8. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2005. "The New York City High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 364-367, May.
  9. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Yeon-Koo Che & Yosuke Yasuda, 2011. "Resolving Conflicting Preferences in School Choice: The "Boston Mechanism" Reconsidered," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 399-410, February.
  10. Fuhito Kojima & M. Utku Ünver, 2010. "The 'Boston' School-Choice Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 729, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 08 Oct 2010.
  11. Clayton Featherstone & Muriel Niederle, 2008. "Ex Ante Efficiency in School Choice Mechanisms: An Experimental Investigation," NBER Working Papers 14618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the New York City High School Match," NBER Working Papers 14864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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