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Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation

Atila Abdulkadiroglu (), Joshua Angrist (), Yusuke Narita () and Parag Pathak
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Atila Abdulkadiroglu: Duke University

No 10429, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: A growing number of school districts use centralized assignment mechanisms to allocate school seats in a manner that reflects student preferences and school priorities. Many of these assignment schemes use lotteries to ration seats when schools are oversubscribed. The resulting random assignment opens the door to credible quasi-experimental research designs for the evaluation of school effectiveness. Yet the question of how best to separate the lottery-generated variation integral to such designs from non-random preferences and priorities remains open. This paper develops easily-implemented empirical strategies that fully exploit the random assignment embedded in a wide class of mechanisms, while also revealing why seats are randomized at one school but not another. We use these methods to evaluate charter schools in Denver, one of a growing number of districts that combine charter and traditional public schools in a unified assignment system. The resulting estimates show large achievement gains from charter school attendance. Our approach generates efficiency gains over ad hoc methods, such as those that focus on schools ranked first, while also identifying a more representative average causal effect. We also show how to use centralized assignment mechanisms to identify causal effects in models with multiple school sectors.

Keywords: treatment effects; experimental design; instrumental variables; policy evaluation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C14 C21 C36 C90 D47 I21 I28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 77 pages
Date: 2016-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
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Related works:
Journal Article: Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation (2015) Downloads
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