A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities
Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Mark E. Glickman
Boston University - Department of Health Services
Caroline M. Hoxby
Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Hoover Institution; Stanford University
Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
NBER Working Paper No. W10803
We show how to construct a ranking of U.S. undergraduate programs based on students' revealed preferences. We construct examples of national and regional rankings, using hand-collected data on 3,240 high-achieving students. Our statistical model extends models used for ranking players in tournaments, such as chess or tennis. When a student makes his matriculation decision among colleges that have admitted him, he chooses which college "wins" in head-to-head competition. The model exploits the information contained in thousands of these wins and losses. Our method produces a ranking that would be difficult for a college to manipulate. In contrast, it is easy to manipulate the matriculation rate and the admission rate, which are the common measures of preference that receive substantial weight in highly publicized college rating systems. If our ranking were used in place of these measures, the pressure on colleges to practice strategic admissions would be relieved. We show how to deal with tuition discounts, alumni preferences, early decision programs, specialty schools, and similar issues.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 52
JEL Classification: I2, C11, C25
Date posted: October 11, 2004
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