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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. M. Utku �nver, 2010. "Dynamic Kidney Exchange," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 372-414.
  2. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sonmez & M. Utku Unver, 2003. "Kidney Exchange," Game Theory and Information 0308002, EconWPA.
  3. Federico Echenique, 2012. "Contracts versus Salaries in Matching," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 594-601, February.
  4. Eric Budish & Estelle Cantillon, 2012. "The Multi-unit Assignment Problem: Theory and Evidence from Course Allocation at Harvard," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2237-71, August.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  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. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Onur Kesten, 2010. "School Choice with Consent," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1297-1348, August.
  12. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  13. Varian, Hal R., 2007. "Position auctions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1163-1178, December.
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