Hessel Oosterbeek

The performance of school assignment mechanisms in practice


The performance of school assignment mechanisms in practice

(with Monique de Haan and Pieter Gautier and Bas van der Klaauw)

Abstract: Theory points to a potential trade-off between two main school assignment mechanisms: Boston and Deferred Acceptance (DA). While DA is strategy- proof and gives a stable matching, Boston might outperform DA in terms of ex-ante efficiency. We quantify the trade-offs between the mechanisms by using information about actual choices under (adaptive) Boston complemented with survey data eliciting studentsí school preferences. We find that under Boston around 8% of the students apply in the first round to another school than their most-preferred school. We compare allocations resulting from Boston with DA with single tie-breaking (one central lottery; DA-STB) and multi- ple tie-breaking (separate lottery per school; DA-MTB). DA-STB places more students in their top-n schools, for any n, than Boston. DA-STB and Boston place more students in their single most-preferred school than DA-MTB, but fewer in their top-n, for n > 1. In terms of ex-ante efficiency, a majority of students is better off under Boston than under DA, while average wel- fare is higher (equivalent to a reduction in the home-school distance by 10 percent) under DA-STB than under Boston. Finally, students from disadvan- taged backgrounds benefit most from a switch from Boston to one of the DA mechanisms. Download this paper.