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The performance of school assignment mechanisms in practice

Listed author(s):
  • de Haan, Monique
  • Gautier, Pieter A.
  • Oosterbeek, Hessel
  • van der Klaauw, Bas

Theory points to a potential trade-off between two main school assignment mechanisms; Boston and Deferred Acceptance (DA). While DA is strategy-proof and gives a stable matching, Boston might outperform DA in terms of ex-ante efficiency. We quantify the (dis)advantages of the mechanisms by using information about actual choices under Boston complemented with survey data eliciting students' school preferences. We find that under Boston around 8% of the students apply to another school than their most-preferred school. We compare allocations resulting from Boston with DA with single tie-breaking (one central lottery; DA-STB) and multiple tie-breaking (separate lottery per school; DA-MTB). DA-STB places more students in their top-n schools, for any n, than Boston and results in higher average welfare. We find a trade-off between DA-STB and DA-MTB. DA-STB places more students in their single most-preferred school than DA-MTB, but fewer in their top-n, for n >= 2. Finally, students from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit most from a switch from Boston to any of the DA mechanisms.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 10656.

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Date of creation: Jun 2015
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10656
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  1. Atila Abdulkadiro?lu & Yeon-Koo Che & Yosuke Yasuda, 2015. "Expanding "Choice" in School Choice," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, February.
  2. Caterina Calsamiglia & Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2010. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1860-1874, September.
  3. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the New York City High School Match," NBER Working Papers 14864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Chen, Yan & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "School choice: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 202-231, March.
  5. Caterina Calsamiglia & Chao Fu & Maia Güell, 2014. "Structural Estimation of a Model of School Choices: the Boston Mechanism vs. Its Alternatives," Working Papers 811, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  6. Fuhito Kojima & Mihai Manea, 2010. "Axioms for Deferred Acceptance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(2), pages 633-653, 03.
  7. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Yeon-Koo Che & Yosuke Yasuda, 2011. "Resolving Conflicting Preferences in School Choice: The "Boston Mechanism" Reconsidered," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 399-410, February.
  8. 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 669-689, June.
  9. Alvin Roth, 2008. "Deferred acceptance algorithms: history, theory, practice, and open questions," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 36(3), pages 537-569, March.
  10. He, Yinghua, 2012. "Gaming the Boston School Choice Mechanism in Beijing," TSE Working Papers 12-345, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  11. Yeon-Koo Che & Fuhito Kojima, 2010. "Asymptotic Equivalence of Probabilistic Serial and Random Priority Mechanisms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(5), pages 1625-1672, 09.
  12. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
  13. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-Proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1954-1978, December.
  14. Nikhil Agarwal & Paulo Somaini, 2014. "Demand Analysis using Strategic Reports: An application to a school choice mechanism," NBER Working Papers 20775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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