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Admission to Selective Schools, Alphabetically

  • Stepan Jurajda
  • Daniel Munich

One’s position in an alphabetically sorted list may be important in determining access to rationed goods or oversubscribed public services. Motivated by anecdotal evidence, we investigate the importance of the position in the alphabet of the last name initial of Czech students for their admission chances into oversubscribed schools. Empirical evidence based on the population of students applying to universities in 1999 suggests that, among marginal applicants, moving from the top to the bottom of the alphabet decreases admission chances by over 2 percent. The implication of such admission procedures for student ability sorting across differently oversubscribed schools is then confirmed by evidence based on a national survey of secondary students’ test scores.

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Paper provided by The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague in its series CERGE-EI Working Papers with number wp282.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cer:papers:wp282
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  1. Maia Guell & Jose V. Rodriguez Mora & Christopher I. Telmer, 2013. "Intergenerational Mobility and the Informative Content of Surnames," ESE Discussion Papers 229, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  2. Victor A. Ginsburgh & Jan C. van Ours, 2003. "Expert Opinion and Compensation: Evidence from a Musical Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 289-296, March.
  3. Saku Aura, 2004. "What's in a Name?," Working Papers 0407, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 16 Dec 2004.
  4. Bas Jacobs & Frederick Van Der Ploeg, 2006. "Guide to reform of higher education: a European perspective," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 21(47), pages 535-592, 07.
  5. Stepan Jurajda & Daniel Munich, 2005. "Admission to Selective Schools, Alphabetically," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp282, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
  7. Štìpán Jurajda, 2005. "Czech Relative Wages and Returns to Schooling: Does the Short Supply of College Education Bite? (in English)," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 55(1-2), pages 83-95, January.
  8. Philippe Aghion & Mathias Dewatripont & Caroline Hoxby & Andreu Mas-Colell & André Sapir, . "Higher aspirations: an agenda for reforming European universities," Blueprints, Bruegel, number 1, June.
  9. M. Dolores Collado & Ignacio Ortuño Ortín & Andrés Romeu, 2008. "Surnames and social status in Spain," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 32(3), pages 259-287, September.
  10. Claudia Goldin & Maria Shim, 2004. "Making a Name: Women's Surnames at Marriage and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 143-160, Spring.
  11. Öckert, Björn, 2010. "What's the value of an acceptance letter? Using admissions data to estimate the return to college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 504-516, August.
  12. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805, August.
  13. Randall K. Filer & Daniel Münich, 2000. "Responses of Private and Public Schools to Voucher Funding: The Czech and Hungarian Experience," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 360, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  14. Filer, Randall K. & Jurajda, Stepan & Planovsky, Jan, 1999. "Education and wages in the Czech and Slovak Republics during transition," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 581-593, November.
  15. Liran Einav & Leeat Yariv, 2006. "What's in a Surname? The Effects of Surname Initials on Academic Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 175-187, Winter.
  16. C. Mirjam Van Praag & Bernard M.S. Van Praag, 2008. "The Benefits of Being Economics Professor A (rather than Z)," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(300), pages 782-796, November.
  17. Handa, Sudhanshu & Gordon, Peter-John, 1999. "University admissions policy in a developing country: evidence from the University of the West Indies," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 279-289, April.
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