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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. Roth, Alvin E. & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1992. "Two-sided matching," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 485-541 Elsevier.
  2. Caterina Calsamiglia & Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2008. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 757.08, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  3. Ehlers, Lars & Svensson, Lars-Gunnar & Andersson, Tommy, 2014. "Budget-balance, fairness and minimal manipulability," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Pathak, Parag A. & Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Roth, Alvin, 2005. "The New York City High School Match," Scholarly Articles 2562765, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Salvador Barberà, 2010. "Strategy-proof social choice," Working Papers 420, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  12. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
  13. Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2008. "Constrained School Choice," Working Papers 294, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  14. 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.
  15. repec:clu:wpaper:0203-18 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Chen, Yan & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "School choice: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 202-231, March.
  17. 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.
  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.
  19. Sonmez, Tayfun, 1997. "Manipulation via Capacities in Two-Sided Matching Markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 197-204, November.
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