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The performance of school assignment mechanisms in practice

Author

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  • de Haan, Monique
  • Gautier, Pieter A.
  • Oosterbeek, Hessel
  • van der Klaauw, Bas

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • de Haan, Monique & Gautier, Pieter A. & Oosterbeek, Hessel & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2015. "The performance of school assignment mechanisms in practice," CEPR Discussion Papers 10656, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10656
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    14. Nikhil Agarwal & Paulo Somaini, 2018. "Demand Analysis Using Strategic Reports: An Application to a School Choice Mechanism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(2), pages 391-444, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ran I. Shorrer & Sandor Sovago, 2017. "Obvious Mistakes in a Strategically Simple College Admissions Environment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-107/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Adam J. Kapor & Christopher A. Neilson & Seth D. Zimmerman, 2020. "Heterogeneous Beliefs and School Choice Mechanisms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(5), pages 1274-1315, May.
    3. Gabrielle Fack & Julien Grenet & Yinghua He, 2019. "Beyond Truth-Telling: Preference Estimation with Centralized School Choice and College Admissions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(4), pages 1486-1529, April.
    4. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua D. Angrist & Yusuke Narita & Parag A. Pathak, 2017. "Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1373-1432, September.
    5. Tong Wang & Congyi Zhou, 2020. "High school admission reform in China: a welfare analysis," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 24(3), pages 215-269, December.
    6. Ashlagi, Itai & Nikzad, Afshin, 2020. "What matters in school choice tie-breaking? How competition guides design," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    7. Inácio Bó & C.-Philipp Heller, 2017. "Strategic schools under the Boston mechanism revisited," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 48(3), pages 545-572, March.
    8. Li, Mengling, 2020. "Ties matter: Improving efficiency in course allocation by allowing ties," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 354-384.
    9. Hoyer, B. & Stroh-Maraun, N., 2020. "Matching strategies of heterogeneous agents under incomplete information in a university clearinghouse," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 453-481.
    10. André Veski & Péter Biró & Kaire Põder & Triin Lauri, 2017. "Efficiency and fair access in Kindergarten allocation policy design," The Journal of Mechanism and Institution Design, Society for the Promotion of Mechanism and Institution Design, University of York, vol. 2(1), pages 57-104, December.
    11. Fack, Gabrielle & Grenet, Julien & He, Yinghua, 2015. "Beyond Truth-Telling: Preference Estimation with Centralized School Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 10907, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Erdil, Aytek & Ergin, Haluk, 2017. "Two-sided matching with indifferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 268-292.
    13. Britta Hoyer & Nadja Stroh-Maraun, 2017. "Matching Strategies of Heterogeneous Agents under Incomplete Information in a University Clearinghouse," Working Papers CIE 110, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.
    14. Hatfield, John William & Kojima, Fuhito & Narita, Yusuke, 2016. "Improving schools through school choice: A market design approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 186-211.
    15. Ashlagi, Itai & Nikzad, Afshin & Romm, Assaf, 2019. "Assigning more students to their top choices: A comparison of tie-breaking rules," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 167-187.
    16. Christopher Neilson & Mohammad Akbarpour & Adam Kapor & Winnie van Dijk & Seth Zimmerman, 2020. "Centralized School Choice with Unequal Outside Options," Working Papers 644, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Boston mechanism; deferred acceptance mechanism; ex-ante efficiency; ex-post efficiency; school choice; strategic behavior;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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