Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation

78 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017  

Atila Abdulkadiroglu

Duke University - Department of Economics

Joshua D. Angrist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Yusuke Narita

Yale University, Department of Economics and Cowles Foundation

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 6, 2017

Abstract

A growing number of school districts use centralized assignment mechanisms to allocate school seats in a manner that reflects student preferences and school priorities. Many of these assignment schemes use lotteries to ration seats when schools are oversubscribed. The resulting random assignment opens the door to credible quasi-experimental research designs for the evaluation of school effectiveness. Yet the question of how best to separate the lottery-generated variation integral to such designs from non-random preferences and priorities remains open. This paper develops easily-implemented empirical strategies that fully exploit the random assignment embedded in a wide class of mechanisms, while also revealing why seats are randomized at one school but not another. We use these methods to evaluate charter schools in Denver, one of a growing number of districts that combine charter and traditional public schools in a unified assignment system. The resulting estimates show large achievement gains from charter school attendance. Our approach generates efficiency gains over ad hoc methods, such as those that focus on schools ranked first, while also identifying a more representative average causal effect. We also show how to use centralized assignment mechanisms to identify causal effects in models with multiple school sectors.

Keywords: Matching Market Design, Natural Experiment, Program Evaluation, Random Assignment, Quasi-Experimental Research Design, School Effectiveness, Charter Schools

Suggested Citation

Abdulkadiroglu, Atila and Angrist, Joshua D. and Narita, Yusuke and Pathak, Parag A., Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation (March 6, 2017). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 2080. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928326

Atila Abdulkadiroglu

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Joshua Angrist

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-353
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-8909 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

Yusuke Narita (Contact Author)

Yale University, Department of Economics and Cowles Foundation ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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