Preference Submission Timing in School Choice Matching: Testing Fairness and Efficiency in the Laboratory
45 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2015 Last revised: 7 May 2017
Date Written: October 7, 2014
We investigate the relative merits of the Boston and Serial Dictatorship mechanisms when the timing of students’ preference submission over schools varies within the structure of the mechanism. Despite the well-documented disadvantages of the Boston mechanism (Abdulkadiroglu and Sonmez, 2003), we hypothesize that a Boston mechanism where students are required to submit their preferences before the realization of their exam scores, can in fact have fairness and efficiency advantages compared to the often favored Serial Dictatorship mechanism. We test these hypotheses in a series of laboratory experiments which vary by the class of mechanism implemented, and the preference submission timing by students, reflective of actual policy changes which have occurred in China. Our experimental findings confirm the efficiency hypothesis straightforwardly, and lend support to the fairness hypothesis when subjects have the chance to learn with experience. The results have important policy implications for school choice mechanism design when students’ relative rankings by schools are initially uncertain.
Keywords: School choice matching, uncertainty, experiments, college admission
JEL Classification: C78, C92, D81, I28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation