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Bidding for Army Career Specialties: Improving the ROTC Branching Mechanism

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  • Tayfun Sönmez

    () (Boston College)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Tayfun Sönmez, 2011. "Bidding for Army Career Specialties: Improving the ROTC Branching Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 783, Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:783
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Market Design; Matching with Contracts; Stability; Strategy-Proofness;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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