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Flipping a coin: Evidence from university applications

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  • Dwenger, Nadja
  • Kübler, Dorothea
  • Weizsäcker, Georg

Abstract

We empirically investigate the possibility that a decision maker prefers to avoid making a decision and instead delegates it to an external device, e.g., a coin flip. A large data set from the centralized clearinghouse for university admissions in Germany shows a choice pattern of applicants that is consistent with coin flipping and that entails substantial consequences for the matching outcome. In a series of experiments capturing the relevant features of university choice, participants often choose lotteries between allocations rather than certain allocations. This contradicts most theories of choice such as expected utility. A survey among university applicants links their choices to the experiments and confirms that the choice of random allocations is intentional

Suggested Citation

  • Dwenger, Nadja & Kübler, Dorothea & Weizsäcker, Georg, 2018. "Flipping a coin: Evidence from university applications," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 240-250.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:209666
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    preference for randomization; matching markets; individual decision making; university admissions;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles

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