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

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  • Christopher N. Avery
  • Mark E. Glickman
  • Caroline M. Hoxby
  • Andrew Metrick

Abstract

We present a method of ranking U.S. undergraduate programs based on students' revealed preferences. When a student chooses a college among those that have admitted him, that college "wins" his "tournament." Our method efficiently integrates the information from thousands of such tournaments. We implement the method using data from a national sample of high-achieving students. We demonstrate that this ranking method has strong theoretical properties, eliminating incentives for colleges to adopt strategic, inefficient admissions policies to improve their rankings. We also show empirically that our ranking is (1) not vulnerable to strategic manipulation; (2) similar regardless of whether we control for variables, such as net cost, that vary among a college's admits; (3) similar regardless of whether we account for students selecting where to apply, including Early Decision. We exemplify multiple rankings for different types of students who have preferences that vary systematically. JEL Codes: I2, I23, C35, D11. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • 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:oup:qjecon:v:128:y:2013:i:1:p:425-467
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Massimo Anelli, 2016. "The Returns to Elite College Education: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 6076, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. 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 11/2007, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    3. Singell, Larry D. & Tang, Hui-Hsuan, 2013. "Pomp and circumstance: University presidents and the role of human capital in determining who leads U.S. research institutions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 219-233.
    4. Csató, László, 2013. "Rangsorolás páros összehasonlításokkal. Kiegészítések a felvételizői preferencia-sorrendek módszertanához
      [Paired comparisons ranking. A supplement to the methodology of application-based preferenc
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1333-1353.
    5. Romero-Medina, Antonio & Machado, Matilde P. & Mora, Ricardo, 2006. "A methodology to measure hospital quality using physicians' choices over training vacancies," UC3M Working papers. Economics we060201, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    6. 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.
    7. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Emmanuel Saez & Nicholas Turner & Danny Yagan, 2017. "Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility," Working Papers 2017-059, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    8. 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, vol. 10(6), pages 1400-1424, December.
    9. Pawan Agarwal, 2006. "Higher Education in India - The Need for Change," Development Economics Working Papers 22139, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    10. Roger King & Simon Marginson & Rajani Naidoo (ed.), 2011. "Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13590, April.
    11. Mumcu, Ayse & Saglam, Ismail, 2007. "College Admissions under Early Decision," MPRA Paper 1906, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. 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.
    13. William N. Goetzmann & Sharon Oster, 2013. "Competition among University Endowments," NBER Chapters,in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, pages 99-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Hector Chade & Gregory Lewis & Lones Smith, 2014. "Student Portfolios and the College Admissions Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 971-1002.
    15. 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, vol. 70(1-2), pages 10-21, May.
    16. Albert Yung-Hsu Liu & Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Jesenka Mrdjenovic, 2007. "Diffusion of Common Application Membership and Admissions Outcomes at American Colleges and Universities," NBER Working Papers 13175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2017. "The Productivity of U.S. Postsecondary Institutions," NBER Chapters,in: Productivity in Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. 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.
    19. David L. Sjoquist & John V. Winters, 2016. "The Effects of State Merit Aid Programs on Attendance at Elite Colleges," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 527-549, October.
    20. Brian G. Knight & Nathan M. Schiff, 2016. "The Out-of-State Tuition Distortion," NBER Working Papers 22996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Ellen Hazelkorn, 2011. "Measuring World-class Excellence and the Global Obsession with Rankings," Chapters,in: Handbook on Globalization and Higher Education, chapter 29 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    22. Heather Antecol & Janet Kiholm Smith, 2012. "The Early Decision Option in College Admission and Its Impact on Student Diversity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 217-249.
    23. Török, Ádám & Telcs, András & Kosztyán, Zsolt Tibor, 2013. "Reflexiók Csató László vitairatára
      [Reflections on the debate contribution of László Csató]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1354-1356.
    24. Csató, László, 2016. "Felsőoktatási rangsorok jelentkezői preferenciák alapján
      [University rankings on the basis of applicants preferences]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(1), pages 27-61.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities

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