Cognitive Ability and Games of School Choice
51 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 21, 2016
We take school admission mechanisms to the lab to test whether the manipulable Boston mechanism disadvantages students of lower cognitive ability and whether this leads to ability segregation across schools. Results show this is the case: lower ability participants receive a lower average payoff and are over-represented at the worst school. Under the strategy-proof Deferred Acceptance mechanism, payoff differences between high and low ability participants are reduced, and distributions by ability across schools are harmonized. Hence, we find support for the argument that a move to strategy-proof mechanisms would “level the playing field”. However, we document a trade-off between equality and efficiency in the choice of school admission mechanisms since average payoffs are larger under Boston than under Deferred Acceptance.
Keywords: Laboratory Experiment, School Choice, Strategy-Proofness, Cognitive Ability, Mechanism Design
JEL Classification: C78, C91, D82, I24
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