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Sequential school choice: Theory and evidence from the field and lab

Umut Dur, Robert Hammond and Onur Kesten

Journal of Economic Theory, 2021, vol. 198, issue C

Abstract: We analyze sequential preference submission in centralized matching problems. Our motivation comes from school districts and colleges that use an application website where students submit their preferences over schools sequentially, after learning information about previous submissions. Comparing the widely used Boston Mechanism (BM) to the celebrated Deferred Acceptance (DA) mechanism, we show that a sequential implementation of BM can achieve superior equilibrium outcomes relative to the student-optimal stable matching. Our empirical tests use data from the field and from a laboratory experiment. We find that sequential preference submission may allow students to overcome the coordination problem in school choice. Our findings may have important policy implications in numerous places across the world where BM is currently in use.

Keywords: School choice; School assignment; Matching theory; Sequential-move games (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C78 D61 D78 I20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2021.105344

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