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Preference Intensities and Risk Aversion in School Choice: A Laboratory Experiment

  • Flip Klijn


    (Harvard Business School)

  • Joana Pais


    (Technical University of Lisbon
    UECE–Research Unit on Complexity and Economics)

  • Marc Vorsatz


    (Fundacion de Estudios de Economia Aplicada (FEDEA))

We experimentally investigate in the laboratory two prominent mechanisms that are employed in school choice programs to assign students to public schools. We study how individual behavior is influenced by preference intensities and risk aversion. Our main results show that (a) the Gale-Shapley mechanism is more robust to changes in cardinal preferences than the Boston mechanism independently of whether individuals can submit a complete or only a restricted ranking of the schools and (b) subjects with a higher degree of risk aversion are more likely to play "safer" strategies under the Gale-Shapley but not under the Boston mechanism. Both results have important implications for the efficiency and the stability of the mechanisms.

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Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 10-093.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:10-093
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  1. Barbera, S. & Dutta, B., 1991. "Protective Behaviour in Matching Models," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 157.91, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  2. Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Pathak, Parag Abishek & Roth, Alvin E., 2009. "Strategy-Proofness Versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match," Scholarly Articles 11077572, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Frank Heinemann & Rosemarie Nagel & Peter Ockenfels, 2004. "Measuring strategic uncertainty in coordination games," Economics Working Papers 804, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. Guillaume Haeringer & Caterina Calsamiglia & Flip Klijn, 2009. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 2009.29, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  5. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
  6. repec:clu:wpaper:0203-18 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2006. "Constrained School Choice," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 671.06, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC), revised 02 Dec 2008.
  8. Yan Chen & Tayfun Sönmez, 2004. "School Choice: An Experimental Study," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 622, Boston College Department of Economics.
  9. Haluk Ergin & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "Games of School Choice under the Boston Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 619, Boston College Department of Economics.
  10. Joana Pais & Agnes Pinter, 2007. "School Choice and Information. An Experimental Study on Matching Mechanisms," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 018, University of Siena.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  12. 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.
  13. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  14. Barbera, Salvador & Dutta, Bhaskar, 1982. "Implementability via protective equilibria," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 49-65, June.
  15. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun S�nmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
  16. Pathak, Parag A. & Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Roth, Alvin, 2005. "The New York City High School Match," Scholarly Articles 2562765, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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