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School Admissions Reform in Chicago and England: Comparing Mechanisms by Their Vulnerability to Manipulation

  • Parag A. Pathak
  • Tayfun Sönmez

In Fall 2009, Chicago authorities abandoned a school assignment mechanism midstream, citing concerns about its vulnerability to manipulation. Nonetheless, they asked thousands of applicants to re-rank schools in a new mechanism that is also manipulable. This paper introduces a method to compare mechanisms by their vulnerability to manipulation. Our methodology formalizes how the old mechanism is at least as manipulable as any other plausible mechanism, including the new one. A number of similar transitions took place in England after the widely popular Boston mechanism was ruled illegal in 2007. Our approach provides support for these and other recent policy changes. (JEL C78, D82, H75, I21, I28)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 103 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 80-106

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:1:p:80-106
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.1.80
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  1. 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.
  2. Ma, Jinpeng, 2010. "The singleton core in the college admissions problem and its application to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 150-164, May.
  3. Chen, Yan & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "School choice: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 202-231, March.
  4. Haeringer, Guillaume & Klijn, Flip, 2009. "Constrained school choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(5), pages 1921-1947, September.
  5. Ehlers, Lars & Svensson, Lars-Gunnar & Andersson, Tommy, 2014. "Budget-balance, fairness and minimal manipulability," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
  6. Roth,Alvin E. & Sotomayor,Marilda A. Oliveira, 1992. "Two-Sided Matching," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521437882, November.
  7. Caterina Calsamiglia & Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2008. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 365, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  8. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sonmez, 2008. "Leveling the Playing Field: Sincere and Sophisticated Players in the Boston Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1636-52, September.
  9. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
  10. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
  11. Fuhito Kojima & Parag A. Pathak, 2009. "Incentives and Stability in Large Two-Sided Matching Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 608-27, June.
  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.
  13. Salvador Barberà, 2010. "Strategy-proof social choice," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 828.10, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Sonmez, Tayfun, 1997. "Manipulation via Capacities in Two-Sided Matching Markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 197-204, November.
  17. Rebecca Allen & Simon Burgess & Leigh McKenna, 2010. "The early impact of Brighton and Hove's school admission reforms," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 10/244, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  18. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
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