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Affirmative Action through Minority Reserves: An Experimental Study on School Choice

  • Flip Klijn
  • Joana Pais
  • Marc Vorsatz

Minority reserves are an affirmative action policy proposed by Hafalir et al. (2013) in the context of school choice. We study in the laboratory the effect of minority reserves on the outcomes of two prominent matching mechanisms, the Gale-Shapley and the Top Trading Cycles mechanisms. Our first experimental result is that the introduction of minority reserves enhances truth-telling of some minority students under the Gale-Shapley but not under the Top Trading Cycles mechanism. Secondly, for the Gale-Shapley mechanism we also find that the stable matchings that are more beneficial to students are obtained more often relative to the other stable matchings when minority reserves are introduced. Finally, the overall expected payoff increases under the Gale-Shapley but decreases under the Top Trading Cycles mechanism if minority reserves are introduced. However, the minority group benefits and the majority group is harmed under both mechanisms.

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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 752.

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Date of creation: Feb 2014
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:752
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  1. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Smez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," Discussion Papers 0203-18, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  2. Yan Chen & Tayfun Sönmez, 2004. "School Choice: An Experimental Study," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 622, Boston College Department of Economics.
  3. Pais, Joana & Pintér, Ágnes, 2008. "School choice and information: An experimental study on matching mechanisms," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 303-328, September.
  4. Lars Ehlers & Isa Hafalir & Bumin Yenmez & Muhammed Yildirim, 2011. "School Choice with Controlled Choice Constraints: Hard Bounds versus Soft Bounds," GSIA Working Papers 2012-E21, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  5. Frank Heinemann & Rosemarie Nagel & Peter Ockenfels, 2004. "Measuring Strategic Uncertainty in Coordination Games," CESifo Working Paper Series 1364, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Guillaume Haeringer & Caterina Calsamiglia & Flip Klijn, 2009. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 2009.29, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  7. Flip Klijn & Joana Pais & Marc Vorsatz, 2010. "Preference Intensities and Risk Aversion in School Choice: A Laboratory Experiment," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 816.10, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  8. Braun, Sebastian & Dwenger, Nadja & Kübler, Dorothea, 2007. "Telling the Truth May Not Pay Off: An Empirical Study of Centralised University Admissions in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3261, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Kojima, Fuhito, 2012. "School choice: Impossibilities for affirmative action," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 685-693.
  10. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  11. Scott Duke Kominers & Tayfun Sönmez, 2012. "Designing for Diversity: Matching with Slot-Specific Priorities," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 806, Boston College Department of Economics.
  12. Yenmez, M. Bumin & Yildirim, Muhammed Ali & Hafalir, Isa Emin, 2013. "Effective affirmative action in school choice," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(2), May.
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