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Bidding for Army Career Specialties: Improving the ROTC Branching Mechanism

  • Tayfun Sönmez

    ()

    (Boston College)

Motivated by historically low retention rates of graduates at USMA and ROTC, the Army recently introduced branch-for-service incentives programs where cadets could bid an additional three years of active duty service obligation to obtain higher priority for their desired career specialties. The full potential of this highly innovative program is not utilized, due to the ROTC's choice of a poorly behaved cadet-branch matching mechanism. Not only does the ROTC mechanism effectively block the access of a large fraction of moderately high-skilled cadets to key career branches, but it is also highly vulnerable to preference manipulation and encourages effort reduction, potentially compromising human capital accumulation of the Army. Building on recent advances in matching markets, we propose a design that eliminates each of these deficiencies and also benefits the Army by mitigating several policy problems that the Army has identified. In contrast to the ROTC mechanism, our design utilizes market principles more elaborately, and it can be interpreted as a hybrid between a market mechanism and a priority-based allocation mechanism.

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Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 783.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:783
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  1. Roth, Alvin & Ünver, M. Utku & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," Scholarly Articles 2580565, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Caterina Calsamiglia & Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2010. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1860-74, September.
  3. Orhan Aygün & Tayfun Sönmez, 2012. "Matching with Contracts: The Critical Role of Irrelevance of Rejected Contracts," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 804, Boston College Department of Economics.
  4. Budish, Eric & Cantillon, Estelle, 2010. "The Multi-unit Assignment Problem: Theory and Evidence from Course Allocation at Harvard," CEPR Discussion Papers 7641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Tayfun Sönmez & Tobias B. Switzer, 2013. "Matching With (Branch‐of‐Choice) Contracts at the United States Military Academy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(2), pages 451-488, 03.
  6. Aytek Erdil & Haluk Ergin, 2007. "What`s the Matter with Tie-breaking? Improving Efficiency in School Choice," Economics Series Working Papers 349, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Orhan Aygün & Tayfun Sönmez, 2012. "The Importance of Irrelevance of Rejected Contracts in Matching under Weakened Substitutes Conditions," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 805, Boston College Department of Economics.
  8. Tayfun Sönmez & Tobias B. Switzer, 2011. "Matching with (Branch-of-Choice) Contracts at United States Military Academy," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 782, Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2008. "Constrained School Choice," Working Papers 294, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  10. Onur Kesten, 2010. "School Choice with Consent," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1297-1348, August.
  11. Varian, Hal R., 2007. "Position auctions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1163-1178, December.
  12. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez, 2011. "School Admissions Reform in Chicago and England: Comparing Mechanisms by Their Vulnerability to Manipulation," NBER Working Papers 16783, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2010. "Course Bidding At Business Schools," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(1), pages 99-123, 02.
  14. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun S�nmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
  15. Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2009. "Matching, Allocation, and Exchange of Discrete Resources," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 717, Boston College Department of Economics.
  16. Tayfun Sönmez & Alvin E. Roth & M. Utku Ünver, 2007. "Efficient Kidney Exchange: Coincidence of Wants in Markets with Compatibility-Based Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 828-851, June.
  17. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2004. "Pairwise Kidney Exchange," Game Theory and Information 0408001, EconWPA, revised 16 Feb 2005.
  18. Gul, Faruk & Stacchetti, Ennio, 2000. "The English Auction with Differentiated Commodities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 66-95, May.
  19. Kominers, Scott Duke, 2012. "On the correspondence of contracts to salaries in (many-to-many) matching," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 984-989.
  20. John William Hatfield & Fuhito Kojima, 2008. "Matching with Contracts: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1189-94, June.
  21. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  22. Federico Echenique, 2012. "Contracts versus Salaries in Matching," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 594-601, February.
  23. 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.
  24. Haluk Ergin & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "Games of School Choice under the Boston Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 619, Boston College Department of Economics.
  25. Hatfield, John William & Kojima, Fuhito, 2010. "Substitutes and stability for matching with contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 1704-1723, September.
  26. Benjamin Edelman & Michael Ostrovsky & Michael Schwarz, 2005. "Internet Advertising and the Generalized Second Price Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords," NBER Working Papers 11765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. M. Utku �nver, 2010. "Dynamic Kidney Exchange," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 372-414.
  28. Kelso, Alexander S, Jr & Crawford, Vincent P, 1982. "Job Matching, Coalition Formation, and Gross Substitutes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1483-1504, November.
  29. Eric Budish, 2011. "The Combinatorial Assignment Problem: Approximate Competitive Equilibrium from Equal Incomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(6), pages 1061 - 1103.
  30. Crawford, Vincent P & Knoer, Elsie Marie, 1981. "Job Matching with Heterogeneous Firms and Workers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(2), pages 437-50, March.
  31. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
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