Protecting Unsophisticated Applicants in School Choice through Information Disclosure

40 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2016

See all articles by Christian Basteck

Christian Basteck

Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin)

Marco Mantovani

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Department of Economics, Management and Statistics (DEMS); Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis à Bruxelles - CEREC

Date Written: June 18, 2016

Abstract

Unsophisticated applicants can be at a disadvantage under manipulable and hence strategically demanding school choice mechanisms. Disclosing information on applications in previous admission periods makes it easier to asses the chances of being admitted at a particular school, and hence may level the playing field between applicants who differ in their cognitive ability. We test this conjecture experimentally for the widely used Boston mechanism. Results show that, absent this information, there exist a substantial gap between subjects of higher and lower cognitive ability, resulting in significant differences in payoffs, and ability segregation across schools. The treatment is effective in improving applicants’ strategic performance. However, because both lower and higher ability subjects improve when they have information about past demands, the gap between the two groups shrinks only marginally, and the instrument fails at leveling the playing field.

Keywords: Laboratory Experiment, School Choice, Strategy-Proofness, Cognitive Ability, Mechanism Design

JEL Classification: C78, C91, D82, I24

Suggested Citation

Basteck, Christian and Mantovani, Marco, Protecting Unsophisticated Applicants in School Choice through Information Disclosure (June 18, 2016). University of Milan Bicocca Department of Economics, Management and Statistics Working Paper No. 342. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2797584 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2797584

Christian Basteck

Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) ( email )

Straße des 17
Juni 135
Berlin, 10623
Germany

Marco Mantovani (Contact Author)

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca - Department of Economics, Management and Statistics (DEMS) ( email )

Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo, 1
Milan, 20126
Italy

Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis à Bruxelles - CEREC ( email )

Brussels, 1000
Belgium
+32 2 7923551 (Phone)

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