The Iterative Deferred Acceptance Mechanism

59 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016 Last revised: 10 Nov 2021

See all articles by Inácio Bó

Inácio Bó

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) - China Center for Behavior Economics and Finance

Rustamdjan Hakimov

WZB Berlin Social Science Center; University of Lausanne

Date Written: November 9, 2021


Lately, there has been an increase in the use of sequential mechanisms, instead of the traditional direct counterparts, in college admissions in many countries, including Germany, Brazil, and China. We describe these mechanisms and identify their shortcomings in terms of incentives and outcome properties. We introduce a new mechanism, which improves upon these shortcomings. Unlike direct mechanisms, which ask students for a full preference ranking over colleges, our mechanism asks students to sequentially make choices or submit partial rankings from sets of colleges. These are used to produce a tentative allocation at each step. If at some point it is determined that a student can no longer be accepted into previous choice, then she is asked to make another choice among colleges that would tentatively accept her. Participants following the simple strategy of choosing the most-preferred college in each step is an ex-post equilibrium that yields the Student-Optimal Stable Matching.

Keywords: Market Design, Matching, Iterative Mechanisms, College Admissions

JEL Classification: C78, C92, D63, D78, D82

Suggested Citation

Bó, Inácio and Hakimov, Rustamdjan and Hakimov, Rustamdjan, The Iterative Deferred Acceptance Mechanism (November 9, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Inácio Bó (Contact Author)

Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) - China Center for Behavior Economics and Finance ( email )

Liutai Road 555


Rustamdjan Hakimov

University of Lausanne ( email )

Quartier Chambronne
Lausanne, 1016

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Reichpietschufer 50
D-10785 Berlin, 10785

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