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

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  • Aytek Erdil
  • Haluk Ergin

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Aytek Erdil & Haluk Ergin, 2007. "What`s the Matter with Tie-breaking? Improving Efficiency in School Choice," Economics Series Working Papers 349, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:349
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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper349.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Szilvia Papai, 2000. "Strategyproof Assignment by Hierarchical Exchange," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1403-1434, November.
    2. 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.
    3. EHLERS, Lars, 2006. "Respecting Priorities when Assigning Students to Schools," Cahiers de recherche 04-2006, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
    4. 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.
    5. Chen, Yan & Sonmez, Tayfun, 2006. "School choice: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 202-231, March.
    6. Shapley, Lloyd & Scarf, Herbert, 1974. "On cores and indivisibility," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 23-37, March.
    7. 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.
    8. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2005. "The Boston Public School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 368-371, May.
    9. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez, 2006. "Changing the Boston School Choice Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 639, Boston College Department of Economics.
    10. 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.
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    16. Balinski, Michel & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "A Tale of Two Mechanisms: Student Placement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-94, January.
    17. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    School Choice; Student-Optimal Stable Mechanism; Weak Priorities; Stable Improvement Cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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