Experimental Economics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Preference intensities and risk aversion in school choice: a laboratory experiment

  • Flip Klijn
  • Joana Pais
  • Marc Vorsatz


We experimentally investigate in the laboratory prominent mechanisms that are employed in school choice programs to assign students to public schools and study how individual behavior is influenced by preference intensities and risk aversion. Our main results show that (a) the Gale–Shapley mechanism is more robust to changes in cardinal preferences than the Boston mechanism independently of whether individuals can submit a complete or only a restricted ranking of the schools and (b) subjects with a higher degree of risk aversion are more likely to play “safer” strategies under the Gale–Shapley but not under the Boston mechanism. Both results have important implications for enrollment planning and the possible protection risk averse agents seek.


School choice Risk aversion Preference intensities Laboratory experiment Gale–Shapley mechanism Boston mechanism Efficiency Stability Constrained choice 

JEL Classification

C78 C91 C92 D78 I20 

Supplementary material

10683_2012_9329_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.2 mb)
Instructions (Translated from Spanish) (PDF 1.2 MB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Economic Analysis (CSIC) and Barcelona GSEBellaterra (Barcelona)Spain
  2. 2.ISEG/Technical University of Lisbon and UECE–Research Unit on Complexity and EconomicsLisboaPortugal
  3. 3.Departamento de Análisis Económico IIUNEDMadridSpain
  4. 4.Fundación de Estudios de Economía Aplicada (FEDEA)MadridSpain

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