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Flipping a coin: Evidence from university applications

Nadja Dwenger, Dorothea Kübler () and Georg Weizsäcker

Journal of Public Economics, 2018, vol. 167, issue C, 240-250

Abstract: We empirically investigate the possibility that a decision maker prefers to avoid making a decision and instead delegates it to an external device, e.g., a coin flip. A large data set from the centralized clearinghouse for university admissions in Germany shows a choice pattern of applicants that is consistent with coin flipping and that entails substantial consequences for the matching outcome. In a series of experiments capturing the relevant features of university choice, participants often choose lotteries between allocations rather than certain allocations. This contradicts most theories of choice such as expected utility. A survey among university applicants links their choices to the experiments and confirms that the choice of random allocations is intentional

Keywords: Preference for randomization; Matching markets; Individual decision making; University admissions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 D01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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