Friday, July 24, 2020

Experiments on school choice: a survey by Hakimov and Kübler

Hakimov, R., Kübler, D. Experiments on centralized school choice and college admissions: a survey. Exp Econ (2020).

Abstract: The paper surveys the experimental literature on centralized matching markets, covering school choice and college admissions models. In the school choice model, one side of the market (schools) is not strategic, and rules (priorities) guide the acceptance decisions. The model covers applications such as school choice programs, centralized university admissions in many countries, and the centralized assignment of teachers to schools. In the college admissions model, both sides of the market are strategic. It applies to college and university admissions in countries where universities can select students, and centralized labor markets such as the assignment of doctors to hospitals. The survey discusses, among other things, the comparison of various centralized mechanisms, the optimality of participants’ strategies, learning by applicants and their behavioral biases, as well as the role of communication, information, and advice. The main experimental findings considered in the survey concern truth-telling and strategic manipulations by the agents, as well as the stability and efficiency of the matching outcome.

From the Conclusions:

"The purpose and style of experiments on school choice and college admissions has changed over time. Many of the early experiments were tests of the theory. Horse races between different school choice mechanisms were conducted. Recently, many studies have dealt with systematic biases in behavior that matter in matching markets, such as bounded rationality, biased self-assessments, etc. Moreover, recent work also focuses on the question of how the exact implementation of a mechanism, e.g., static versus dynamic, with or without advice, afects market outcomes. Thus, the matching literature has started to establish behavioral regularities that can be of interest for policy makers involved in market design and behavioral theorists."

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