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

See all articles by Jaimie W. Lien

Jaimie W. Lien

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Department of Decision Sciences & Managerial Economics

Jie Zheng

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Xiaohan Zhong

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Date Written: October 7, 2014

Abstract

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

Lien, Jaimie W. and Zheng, Jie and Zhong, Xiaohan, Preference Submission Timing in School Choice Matching: Testing Fairness and Efficiency in the Laboratory (October 7, 2014). Experimental Economics, Vol. 19, p. 116-150, September 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2636099

Jaimie W. Lien (Contact Author)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) - Department of Decision Sciences & Managerial Economics ( email )

Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

Jie Zheng

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

HOME PAGE: http://jzheng.weebly.com/

Xiaohan Zhong

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

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