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What`s the Matter with Tie-breaking? Improving Efficiency in School Choice

  • Aytek Erdil
  • Haluk Ergin

Very little is known about the student-optimal stable mechanism when school priorities are weak. In current practice, the student proposing deferred acceptance algorithm is applied after indifferences in priority orders are broken with a lottery. Although such a tie-breaking procedure preserves stability, it adversely affects the welfare of the students since it introduces artificial stability constraints. We propose a simple procedure to compute a student-optimal stable matching when priorities are weak. The idea behind our construction relies on a new notion which we call a stable improvement cycle. Abdulkadiroglu, Pathak, and Roth (2006) report that had our algorithm been applied to the preference data of the 2003-2004 New York City High School Match, 6,854 students (10.5% of the 63,795 matched students) would have been matched with schools higher on their preference lists without hurting the others. We run simulations to understand the qualitative effects of correlation in preferences and of locational preference on the size of the efficiency gain. We also investigate the strategic properties of the class of student-optimal stable mechanisms.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper349.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 349.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:349
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  1. Shapley, Lloyd & Scarf, Herbert, 1974. "On cores and indivisibility," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 23-37, March.
  2. 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.
  3. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Smez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," Discussion Papers 0203-18, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  4. Elliott Peranson & Alvin E. Roth, 1999. "The Redesign of the Matching Market for American Physicians: Some Engineering Aspects of Economic Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 748-780, September.
  5. 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.
  6. Yan Chen & Tayfun Sönmez, 2004. "School Choice: An Experimental Study," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 622, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
  8. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sonmez, 2006. "Changing the Boston School Choice Mechanism," NBER Working Papers 11965, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kesten, Onur, 2006. "On two competing mechanisms for priority-based allocation problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 155-171, March.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. EHLERS, Lars, 2006. "Respecting Priorities when Assigning Students to Schools," Cahiers de recherche 2006-04, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  13. 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.
  14. Roth, Alvin E, 1984. "The Evolution of the Labor Market for Medical Interns and Residents: A Case Study in Game Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 991-1016, December.
  15. 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.
  16. Szilvia Papai, 2000. "Strategyproof Assignment by Hierarchical Exchange," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1403-1434, November.
  17. 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.
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