A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities

52 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2004  

Christopher Avery

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Mark E. Glickman

Harvard University - Department of Statistics

Caroline M. Hoxby

Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Hoover Institution; Stanford University

Andrew Metrick

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2005

Abstract

We show how to construct a ranking of U.S. undergraduate programs based on students' revealed preferences. We construct examples of national and regional rankings, using hand-collected data on 3,240 high-achieving students. Our statistical model extends models used for ranking players in tournaments, such as chess or tennis. When a student makes his matriculation decision among colleges that have admitted him, he chooses which college "wins" in head-to-head competition. The model exploits the information contained in thousands of these wins and losses. Our method produces a ranking that would be difficult for a college to manipulate. In contrast, it is easy to manipulate the matriculation rate and the admission rate, which are the common measures of preference that receive substantial weight in highly publicized college rating systems. If our ranking were used in place of these measures, the pressure on colleges to practice strategic admissions would be relieved. We show how to deal with tuition discounts, alumni preferences, early decision programs, specialty schools, and similar issues.

JEL Classification: I2, C11, C25

Suggested Citation

Avery, Christopher and Glickman, Mark E. and Hoxby, Caroline M. and Metrick, Andrew, A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities (December 2005). NBER Working Paper No. W10803. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=601105 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.601105

Christopher Avery (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4063 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Mark E. Glickman

Harvard University - Department of Statistics

Science Center 7th floor
One Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-2901
United States

Caroline M. Hoxby

Stanford University ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hoover Institution ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

Stanford University ( email )

Department of Economics
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-725-8719 (Phone)
650-725-5702 (Fax)

Andrew Metrick

Yale School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
(203)-432-3069 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.som.yale.edu/andrewmetrick/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
47,973
Rank
14
Abstract Views
155,689