IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

A theory of school choice lotteries

  • Kesten, Onur


    (Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Ünver, M. Utku


    (Department of Economics, Boston College)

A new mechanism was introduced in New York City and Boston to assign students to public schools. This mechanism was advocated for its superior fairness property, besides others. We introduce a new framework for school-choice problems and two notions of fairness in lottery design based on ex-ante stability. This framework unifies known many-to-one and one-sided matching models. We show that the NYC/Boston mechanism fails to satisfy these fairness properties. We then propose two new mechanisms, one that is ordinally Pareto-dominant within the class of strongly ex-ante stable mechanisms and one that satisfies ex-ante stability, equal treatment, and constrained ordinal-Pareto-efficiency.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Theoretical Economics.

Volume (Year): 10 (2015)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)

in new window

Handle: RePEc:the:publsh:1558
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kojima, Fuhito & Manea, Mihai, 2010. "Incentives in the probabilistic serial mechanism," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(1), pages 106-123, January.
  2. Bogomolnaia, Anna & Moulin, Herve, 2001. "A New Solution to the Random Assignment Problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 295-328, October.
  3. Haeringer, Guillaume & Klijn, Flip, 2009. "Constrained school choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(5), pages 1921-1947, September.
  4. Alkan, Ahmet & Gale, David, 2003. "Stable schedule matching under revealed preference," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 289-306, October.
  5. 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.
  6. EHLERS, Lars, 2006. "Respecting Priorities when Assigning Students to Schools," Cahiers de recherche 04-2006, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  7. Yan Chen & Tayfun Sönmez, 2004. "School Choice: An Experimental Study," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 622, Boston College Department of Economics.
  8. Onur Kesten, 2010. "School Choice with Consent," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1297-1348.
  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. Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "House Allocation with Existing Tenants," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 233-260, October.
  11. 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.
  12. Ergin, Haluk & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "Games of school choice under the Boston mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 215-237, January.
  13. Pathak, Parag A. & Sethuraman, Jay, 2011. "Lotteries in student assignment: An equivalence result," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 6(1), January.
  14. Sönmez, Tayfun & Pathak, Parag A. & Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Roth, Alvin, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," Scholarly Articles 2562764, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
  16. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2006. "Changing the Boston School Choice Mechanism," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001022, UCLA Department of Economics.
  17. Joana Pais & Agnes Pinter, 2007. "School Choice and Information. An Experimental Study on Matching Mechanisms," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 018, University of Siena.
  18. Kesten, Onur, 2006. "On two competing mechanisms for priority-based allocation problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 155-171, March.
  19. Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Pathak, Parag Abishek & Roth, Alvin E., 2009. "Strategy-Proofness Versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match," Scholarly Articles 11077572, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Kesten, Onur, 2009. "Why do popular mechanisms lack efficiency in random environments?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(5), pages 2209-2226, September.
  21. Caterina Calsamiglia & Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2008. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 365, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  22. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Yeon-Koo Che & Yosuke Yasuda, 2010. "Expanding “Choice” in School Choice," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000062, David K. Levine.
  23. Stergios Athanassoglou & Jay Sethuraman, 2011. "House allocation with fractional endowments," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 40(3), pages 481-513, August.
  24. Haluk I. Ergin, 2002. "Efficient Resource Allocation on the Basis of Priorities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2489-2497, November.
  25. YIlmaz, Özgür, 2010. "The probabilistic serial mechanism with private endowments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 475-491, July.
  26. Hylland, Aanund & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1979. "The Efficient Allocation of Individuals to Positions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(2), pages 293-314, April.
  27. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  28. YIlmaz, Özgür, 2009. "Random assignment under weak preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 546-558, May.
  29. Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2003. "Ordinal efficiency and dominated sets of assignments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 157-172, September.
  30. Federico Echenique & Sangmok Lee & Matthew Shum & M. Bumin Yenmez, 2013. "The Revealed Preference Theory of Stable and Extremal Stable Matchings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(1), pages 153-171, 01.
  31. 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.
  32. Katta, Akshay-Kumar & Sethuraman, Jay, 2006. "A solution to the random assignment problem on the full preference domain," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 131(1), pages 231-250, November.
  33. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:the:publsh:1558. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Martin J. Osborne)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.