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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 1 (February 2013)

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School Admissions Reform in Chicago and England: Comparing Mechanisms by Their Vulnerability to Manipulation

Article Citation

Pathak, Parag A., and Tayfun Sönmez. 2013. "School Admissions Reform in Chicago and England: Comparing Mechanisms by Their Vulnerability to Manipulation." American Economic Review, 103(1): 80-106.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.1.80

Abstract

In Fall 2009, Chicago authorities abandoned a school assignment mechanism midstream, citing concerns about its vulnerability to manipulation. Nonetheless, they asked thousands of applicants to re-rank schools in a new mechanism that is also manipulable. This paper introduces a method to compare mechanisms by their vulnerability to manipulation. Our methodology formalizes how the old mechanism is at least as manipulable as any other plausible mechanism, including the new one. A number of similar transitions took place in England after the widely popular Boston mechanism was ruled illegal in 2007. Our approach provides support for these and other recent policy changes. (JEL C78, D82, H75, I21, I28)

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Authors

Pathak, Parag A. (MIT)
Sönmez, Tayfun (Boston College)

JEL Classifications

C78: Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
D82: Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
H75: State and Local Government: Health; Education; Welfare; Public Pensions
I21: Analysis of Education
I28: Education: Government Policy


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