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Ex Ante Efficiency in School Choice Mechanisms: An Experimental Investigation

  • Clayton Featherstone
  • Muriel Niederle

Criteria for evaluating school choice mechanisms are first, whether truth-telling is sometimes punished and second, how efficient the match is. With common knowledge preferences, Deferred Acceptance (DA) dominates the Boston mechanism by the first criterion and is ambiguously ranked by the second. Our laboratory experiments confirm this. A new ex ante perspective, where preferences are private information, introduces new efficiency costs borne by strategy-proof mechanisms, like DA. In a symmetric environment, truth-telling can be an equilibrium under Boston, and Boston can first-order stochastically dominate DA in terms of efficiency, both in theory and in the laboratory.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14618.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14618
Note: ED LS
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  1. Sönmez, Tayfun & Pathak, Parag A. & Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Roth, Alvin, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," Scholarly Articles 2562764, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Yan Chen & Tayfun Sönmez, 2004. "School Choice: An Experimental Study," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 622, Boston College Department of Economics.
  3. Alvin E. Roth & Uriel G. Rothblum, 1999. "Truncation Strategies in Matching Markets--In Search of Advice for Participants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(1), pages 21-44, January.
  4. Roth, Alvin & Ünver, M. Utku & Sönmez, Tayfun, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," Scholarly Articles 2580565, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez, 2013. "School Admissions Reform in Chicago and England: Comparing Mechanisms by Their Vulnerability to Manipulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 80-106, February.
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  8. Kesten, Onur & Ünver, M. Utku, 2015. "A theory of school choice lotteries," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(2), May.
  9. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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  11. Joana Pais & Ágnes Pintér, 2006. "School Choice and Information An Experimental Study on Matching Mechanisms," Working Papers Department of Economics 2006/14, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon.
  12. Roth, Alvin E, 1991. "A Natural Experiment in the Organization of Entry-Level Labor Markets: Regional Markets for New Physicians and Surgeons in the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 415-40, June.
  13. Roth, Alvin E., 1982. "Incentive compatibility in a market with indivisible goods," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 127-132.
  14. 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 669-89, June.
  15. Fuhito Kojima & Parag A. Pathak, 2009. "Incentives and Stability in Large Two-Sided Matching Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 608-27, June.
  16. John H. Kagel & Alvin E. Roth, 2000. "The Dynamics Of Reorganization In Matching Markets: A Laboratory Experiment Motivated By A Natural Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(1), pages 201-235, February.
  17. 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.
  18. Bogomolnaia, Anna & Moulin, Herve, 2001. "A New Solution to the Random Assignment Problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 295-328, October.
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