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School Admissions Reform in Chicago and England: Comparing Mechanisms by Their Vulnerability to Manipulation

  • Parag A. Pathak
  • Tayfun Sönmez

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 between mechanisms took place in England after the widely popular Boston mechanism was ruled illegal in 2007. Our approach provides support for these and other recent policy changes involving matching mechanisms.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16783.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Publication status: published as Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun S�nmez, 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16783
Note: ED LS PE
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  1. Caterina Calsamiglia & Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2010. "Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1860-74, September.
  2. Guillaume Haeringer & Flip Klijn, 2008. "Constrained School Choice," Working Papers 294, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  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. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2005. "The New York City High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 364-367, May.
  5. Sönmez, Tayfun & Pathak, Parag A. & Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Roth, Alvin, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," Scholarly Articles 2562764, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Salvador Barberà, 2010. "Strategy-proof social choice," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 828.10, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  7. ANDERSSON, Tommy & EHLERS, Lars & SVENSSON, Lars-Gunnar, 2010. "Budget-Balance, Fairness and Minimal Manipulability," Cahiers de recherche 18-2010, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Chen, Yan & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "School choice: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 202-231, March.
  11. Roth, Alvin E. & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1992. "Two-sided matching," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 485-541 Elsevier.
  12. Sonmez, Tayfun, 1997. "Manipulation via Capacities in Two-Sided Matching Markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 197-204, November.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Smez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," Discussion Papers 0203-18, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  16. 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.
  17. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  18. 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 1636-52, September.
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