Constrained School Choice: an Experimental Study

Authors: Caterina Calsamiglia, Guillaume Haeringer and Flip Klijn

American Economic Review, Vol. 100, No 4, 1860--1874, January, 2010

The literature on school choice assumes that families can submit a preference list over all the schools they want to be assigned to. However, in many real-life instances families are only allowed to submit a list containing a limited number of schools. Subjects' incentives are drastically affected, as more individuals manipulate their preferences. Including a safety school in the constrained list explains most manipulations. Competitiveness across schools plays an important role. Constraining choices increases segregation and affects the stability and efficiency of the final allocation. Remarkably, the constraint reduces significantly the proportion of subjects playing a dominated strategy (JEL D82, I21 )

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona School of Economics Working Paper 365