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

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

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.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjs043
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 128 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 425-467

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:128:y:2013:i:1:p:425-467
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
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