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Minimizing Justified Envy in School Choice: The Design of New Orleans' OneApp

Listed author(s):
  • Atila Abdulkadiroglu
  • Yeon-Koo Che
  • Parag A. Pathak
  • Alvin E. Roth
  • Olivier Tercieux

In 2012, New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) became the first U.S. district to unify charter and traditional public school admissions in a single-offer assignment mechanism known as OneApp. The RSD also became the first district to use a mechanism based on Top Trading Cycles (TTC) in a real-life allocation problem. Since TTC was originally devised for settings in which agents have endowments, there is no formal rationale for TTC in school choice. In particular, TTC is a Pareto efficient and strategy-proof mechanism, but so are other mechanisms. We show that TTC is constrained-optimal in the following sense: TTC minimizes justified envy among all Pareto efficient and strategy-proof mechanisms when each school has one seat. When schools have more than one seat, there are multiple possible implementations of TTC. Data from New Orleans and Boston indicate that there is little difference across these versions of TTC, but significantly less justified envy compared to a serial dictatorship.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23265.

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Date of creation: Mar 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23265
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  1. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 457-488.
  2. Parag A. Pathak, 2011. "The Mechanism Design Approach to Student Assignment," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 513-536, 09.
  3. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sonmez, 1998. "Random Serial Dictatorship and the Core from Random Endowments in House Allocation Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 689-702, May.
  4. Alcalde, Jose & Barbera, Salvador, 1994. "Top Dominance and the Possibility of Strategy-Proof Stable Solutions to Matching Problems," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 4(3), pages 417-435, May.
  5. Umut M. Dur & Scott Duke Kominers & Parag A. Pathak & Tayfun Sönmez, 2013. "The Demise of Walk Zones in Boston: Priorities vs. Precedence in School Choice," NBER Working Papers 18981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hakimov, Rustamdjan & Kesten, Onur, 2014. "The equitable top trading cycles mechanism for school choice," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2014-210, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  7. Ehlers, Lars & Svensson, Lars-Gunnar & Andersson, Tommy, 2014. "Budget-balance, fairness and minimal manipulability," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(3), September.
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