College Choice, Selection, and Allocation Mechanisms: A Structural Empirical Analysis
We use rich microeconomic data on performance and choices of students at college entry to analyze interactions between the selection mechanism, eliciting college preferences through exams, and the allocation mechanism. We set up a framework in which success probabilities and student preferences are shown to be identified from data on their choices and their exam grades under exclusion restrictions and support conditions. The counterfactuals we consider balance the severity of congestion and the quality of the match between schools and students. Moving to deferred acceptance or inverting the timing of choices and exams are shown to increase welfare. Redistribution among students and among schools is also sizeable in all counterfactual experiments.
Centre for Evidence-based Policy Advice
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College Choice Allocation Mechanisms: Structural Estimates and Counterfactuals
IZA Discussion Paper, Heft 8550,
We evaluate a simple allocation mechanism of students to majors at college entry that was commonly used in universities in Brazil in the 1990s and 2000s. Students first chose a single major and then took exams that select them in or out of the chosen major. The literature analyzing student placement, points out that this decentralized mechanism is not stable and is not strategy-proof. This means that some pairs of major & students can be made better off and that students tend to disguise their preferences using such a mechanism. We build up a model of performance and school choices in which expectations are carefully specified and we estimate it using cross-section data reporting choices between two medical schools and grade performances at the entry exams. Given those estimates, we evaluate changes in selection and students’ expected utilities when other mechanisms are implemented. Results highlight the importance of strategic motives and redistributive effects of changes of the allocation mechanisms.