The Secure Boston Mechanism: theory and experiments
- 106 Downloads
This paper introduces a new matching mechanism that is a hybrid of the two most common mechanisms in school choice, the Boston Mechanism (BM) and the Deferred Acceptance algorithm (DA). BM is the most commonly used mechanism in the field, but it is neither strategyproof nor fair. DA is the mechanism that is typically favored by economists, but it is not Pareto efficient. The new mechanism, the Secure Boston Mechanism (sBM), is an intuitive modification of BM that secures any school a student was initially guaranteed but otherwise prioritizes a student at a school based upon how she ranks it. Relative to BM, theoretical results suggest that sBM is an improvement in terms of strategyproofness and fairness. We present experimental evidence using a novel experimental design that confirms that sBM significantly increases truth-telling and fairness. Relative to DA, theoretical results suggest that sBM can be a Pareto improvement in equilibrium but the efficiency comparison of sBM and DA is theoretically ambiguous. We present simulation evidence that suggests that sBM often does Pareto dominate DA when DA is inefficient, while sBM and DA very often overlap when DA is efficient. Overall, our results strongly support the use of sBM over BM and suggest that sBM should be considered as a viable alternative to DA.
KeywordsSchool choice Student assignment Preference manipulations Lab experiments
JEL ClassificationC78 D61 D78 I20
We thank Zhiyi (Alicia) Xu for excellent research assistance; the editor, two referees, and Inacio Bo for comments, seminar participants at the 2014 INFORMS Conference, 2015 MATCH UP Conference, 2015 AMMA Conference, 2015 ESA Conference, Georgia State University, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Davidson College, and Academia Sinica for comments; and the Faculty Research and Professional Development Grant fund for financial support.
The funding was provided by Internal research budget.
- Agarwal, N., & Somaini, P. (2014). Demand analysis using strategic reports: An application to a school choice mechanism. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Calsamiglia, C., Haeringer, G., & Klijn, F. (2010). Constrained school choice: An experimental study. American Economic Review, 860–1874.Google Scholar
- Chen, Y., & Kesten, O. (2016). Chinese college admissions and school choice reforms: An experimental study. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Cookson, P. W. (1995). School choice: The struggle for the soul of American education. New Heaven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Ding, T., & Schotter, A. (2014). Matching and chatting: An experimental study of the impact of network communication on school-matching mechanisms. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Dur, U. (2013). The modified Boston Mechanism. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Dur, U., & Morrill, T. (2016). What you don’t know can help you in school assignment. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Dur, U., Hammond, R. G., & Morrill, T. (2018). Identifying the harm of manipulable school-choice mechanisms. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 10(1), 187–213.Google Scholar
- Featherstone, C., & Niederle, M. (2014). Improving on strategy-proof school choice mechanisms: An experimental investigation. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Glenn, C. L. (1991). Controlled choice in Massachusetts public schools. Public Interest, 103, 88–105.Google Scholar
- Mennle, T., & Seuken, S. (2015). Trafe-offs in school choice: Comparing deferred acceptance, the naive and the adaptive Boston Mechanism. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Miralles, A. (2008). School choice: The case for the Boston Method. Mimeo.Google Scholar
- Vaznis, J. (2014). Boston school-assignment letters in the mail. The Boston Globe. https://goo.gl/Na1Akn. Accessed March 25.
- WCPSS. (2015). Wake county public school system district facts. https://goo.gl/ZJgGb2.