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Admissions Reform at Chicago's Selective High Schools: Comparing Mechanisms by their Vulnerability to Manipulation

Listed author(s):
  • Tayfun Sonmez
  • Parag Pathak (MIT)

In Fall 2009, officials from Chicago Public Schools changed their assignment mechanism for coveted spots at selective college preparatory high schools midstream. After asking about 14,000 applicants to submit their preferences for schools under one mechanism, the district asked them re-submit their preferences under a new mechanism. Officials were concerned that ``high-scoring kids were being rejected simply because of the order in which they listed their college prep preferences'' under the abandoned mechanism. What is somewhat puzzling is that the new mechanism is also manipulable. This paper introduces a method to compare mechanisms based on their vulnerability to manipulation. Under our notion, the old mechanism is more manipulable than the new Chicago mechanism. Indeed, the old Chicago mechanism is at least as manipulable as any other plausible mechanism. A number of similar transitions took place in the UK after the widely popular Boston mechanism was ruled illegal in 2007. We introduce a methodology to compare mechanisms based on their vulnerability to manipulation and provide support for the recent policy changes in Chicago and UK. This paper introduces a method to compare mechanisms based on their vulnerability to manipulation. Under our notion, the old mechanism is more manipulable than the new Chicago mechanism. Indeed, the old Chicago mechanism is at least as manipulable as any other plausible mechanism. A number of similar transitions took place in the UK after the widely popular Boston mechanism was ruled illegal in 2007. We introduce a methodology to compare mechanisms based on their vulnerability to manipulation and provide support for the recent policy changes in Chicago and UK.We show that the old mechanism is more manipulable than the new Chicago mechanism. Indeed, the old Chicago mechanism is at least as manipulable as any other plausible mechanism. A number of similar transitions took place in the UK after the widely popular Boston mechanism was ruled illegal in 2007. We introduce a methodology to compare mechanisms based on their vulnerability to manipulation and provide support for the recent policy changes in Chicago and UK.

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Paper provided by EcoMod in its series EcoMod2011 with number 2954.

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Date of creation: 06 Jul 2011
Handle: RePEc:ekd:002625:2954
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  1. Ehlers, Lars & Svensson, Lars-Gunnar & Andersson, Tommy, 2014. "Budget-balance, fairness and minimal manipulability," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
  2. 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.
  3. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
  4. Sonmez, Tayfun, 1997. "Manipulation via Capacities in Two-Sided Matching Markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 197-204, November.
  5. Rebecca Allen & Simon Burgess & Leigh McKenna, 2010. "The early impact of Brighton and Hove's school admission reforms," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 10/244, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  6. Ergin, Haluk & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "Games of school choice under the Boston mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 215-237, January.
  7. Ma, Jinpeng, 2010. "The singleton core in the college admissions problem and its application to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP)," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 150-164, May.
  8. Alvin E. Roth, 2002. "The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1341-1378, July.
  9. Haeringer, Guillaume & Klijn, Flip, 2009. "Constrained school choice," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(5), pages 1921-1947, September.
  10. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  11. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sonmez, 2008. "Leveling the Playing Field: Sincere and Sophisticated Players in the Boston Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1636-1652, September.
  12. Chen, Yan & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "School choice: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 202-231, March.
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