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Comparing School Choice Mechanisms by Interim and Ex-Ante Welfare

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  • Peter Troyan

    () (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Troyan, 2011. "Comparing School Choice Mechanisms by Interim and Ex-Ante Welfare," Discussion Papers 10-021, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:10-021
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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/10-021.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    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. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Fuhito Kojima & Mihai Manea, 2010. "Axioms for Deferred Acceptance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(2), pages 633-653, March.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-Proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1954-1978, December.
    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. Aytek Erdil & Haluk Ergin, 2008. "What's the Matter with Tie-Breaking? Improving Efficiency in School Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 669-689, June.
    11. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
    12. Haluk I. Ergin, 2002. "Efficient Resource Allocation on the Basis of Priorities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2489-2497, November.
    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:jogath:v:46:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00182-016-0562-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:spr:joecth:v:64:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00199-016-0995-y is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Caterina Calsamiglia & Chao Fu & Maia Güell, 2014. "Structural Estimation of a Model of School Choices: the Boston Mechanism vs. Its Alternatives," Working Papers 2014-21, FEDEA.
    4. Afacan, Mustafa Oǧuz, 2016. "Enrollment manipulations in school choice," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 119-125.
    5. Fragiadakis, Daniel & Troyan, Peter, 2017. "Improving matching under hard distributional constraints," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 12(2), May.
    6. He, Yinghua & Miralles, Antonio & Pycia, Marek & Yan, Jianye, 2015. "A Pseudo-Market Approach to Allocation with Priorities," TSE Working Papers 15-601, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jul 2017.
    7. Featherstone, Clayton R. & Niederle, Muriel, 2016. "Boston versus deferred acceptance in an interim setting: An experimental investigation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 353-375.
    8. Nikhil Agarwal & Paulo Somaini, 2014. "Demand Analysis using Strategic Reports: An application to a school choice mechanism," NBER Working Papers 20775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    school choice; Boston mechanism; deferred acceptance; market design; weak priorities;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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