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Comparing School Choice Mechanisms by Interim and Ex-Ante Welfare

  • Peter Troyan

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

The Boston mechanism and deferred acceptance (DA) are two competing mechanisms widely used in school choice problems across the United States. Recent work has highlighted welfare gains from the use of the Boston mechanism, in particular finding that when cardinal utility is taken into account, Boston interim Pareto dominates DA in certain incomplete information environments with no school priorities. We show that these previous interim results are not robust to the introduction of nontrivial (weak) priorities. However, we partially restore the earlier results by showing that from an ex-ante utility perspective, the Boston mechanism once again Pareto dominates any strategyproof mechanism (including DA), even allowing for arbitrary priority structures. Thus, we suggest ex-ante Pareto dominance as a criterion by which to compare school choice mechanisms. This criterion may be of interest to school district leaders, as they can be thought of as social planners whose goal is to maximize the overall ex-ante welfare of the students. From a policy perspective, school districts may have justification for the use the Boston mechanism over a strategyproof alternative, even with nontrivial priority structures.

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Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 10-021.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:10-021
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  1. 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.
  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. Pathak, Parag A. & Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Roth, Alvin, 2005. "The New York City High School Match," Scholarly Articles 2562765, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
  5. Fuhito Kojima & M. Utku Ünver, 2010. "The 'Boston' School-Choice Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 729, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 08 Oct 2010.
  6. 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.
  7. Haluk I. Ergin, 2002. "Efficient Resource Allocation on the Basis of Priorities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2489-2497, November.
  8. 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.
  9. Clayton Featherstone & Muriel Niederle, 2008. "Ex Ante Efficiency in School Choice Mechanisms: An Experimental Investigation," NBER Working Papers 14618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Pais, Joana & Pintér, Ágnes, 2008. "School choice and information: An experimental study on matching mechanisms," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 303-328, September.
  12. 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.
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