Caterina Calsamiglia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona



School Choice Mechanisms, Peer Effects and Sorting

Joint with Francisco Martinez-Mora and Antonio Miralles

Abstract: We study the effects that school choice mechanisms and school priorities have on the degree of sorting of students across schools and neighborhoods, when school quality is endogenously determined by the peer group. Using a model with income or ability heterogeneity, we compare the popular Deferred Acceptance (DA) and Boston (BM) mechanisms under several scenarios. With residential priorities, students and their households fully segregate into quality-ranked schools and neighborhoods under both mechanisms. With no residential priorities and a bad public school, DA does not generate sorting in general, while BM does so between a priori good public schools. With private schools, the best public school becomes more elitist under BM.

[Paper in PDF]

Structural Estimation of a Model of School Choices: the Boston Mechanism vs. Its Alternatives

Joint with Chao Fu and Maia Guell

Abstract: An important debate centers on what procedure should be used to allocate students across public schools. We contribute to this debate by developing and estimating a model of school choices by households under one of the most popular procedures known as the Boston mechanism (BM). We\ recover the joint distribution of household preferences and sophistication types using administrative data from Barcelona. Our counterfactual policy analyses show that a change from BM to the Gale-Shapley student deferred acceptance mechanism would create more losers than winners, while a change from BM to the top trading cycles mechanism has the opposite effect.

[Paper in PDF]

All about priorities? Less school choice with bad schools

Joint with Antonio Miralles

Abstract: School choice policies intend to give families the opportunity to decide the public school their children attend. Overdemand for a particular school is usually resolved by apparently innocuous, coarse priority rules given for residence in the catchment area of the school and other family socioeconomic characteristics. We study a coarse-priorities assignment problem with vertical differentiation separating good schools from a few bad schools. We show that the two most debated and used mechanisms, the Boston Mechanism (BOS) -provided some school is sufficiently bad- and Deferred Acceptance (DA), result in an assignment that closely replicates the priority structure, independently of families' preferences. Unless fully discriminated with lowest priority, families living in bad school areas barely access good schools and still block choice between good schools. The literature should therefore not take priorities as given, but incorporate them as a fundamental aspect of the design of the mechanism.

[Paper in PDF]

The Illusion of Choice: Evidence from Barcelona

Joint with Maia Guell

Abstract: The Boston mechanism is a school allocation procedure that is widely used around the world. To resolve overdemands, priority is often given to families who live in the neighborhood school. We note that such priorities define some schools as being safer. We exploit an unexpected change in the definition of neighborhood in Barcelona to show that when allowing school choice under the BM with priorities: (1) the resulting allocation is not very different from a neighborhood-based assignment, and (2) important inequalities emerge beyond parents' naivete found in the literature.

[Paper in PDF]


Gender Differences in Responses to Big Stakes

Joint with Ghazala Azmat and Nagore Iriberri

Revise and resubmit at the Journal of the European Economic Association

Abstract: In the psychology literature, "choking under pressure" refers to a behavioral response to an increase in the stakes. In a natural experiment, we study the gender difference in performance resulting from changes in stakes. We use detailed information on the performance of high-school students and exploit the variation in the stakes of tests, which range from 5% to 27% of the final grade. We find that female students outperform male students relatively more when the stakes are low. The gender gap disappears in tests taken at the end of high school, which count for 50% of the university entry grade.

[Paper in PDF]

Testing for Fictive Learning in Decision-Making under Uncertainty

Joint with Oliver Bunn and Donald Brown

Abstract: This paper is an exposition of an experiment on revealed preferences, where we poshte a novel discrete binary choice model. To estimate this model, we use general estimating equations or GEE. This is a methodology originating in biostatistics for estimating regression models with correlated data. In this paper we focus on the motivation for our approach, the logic and intuitn underlying our analysis and a summary of our findings. The missing technical details, including proofs, are in the working paper by Bunn et al (2013).

[Paper in PDF]

Alfred Marshall's Cardinal Theory of Value: The Strong Law of Demand

Joint with Donald J. Brown

Accepted at the Economic Theory Bulletin

Abstract: We show that all the fundamental properties of competitive equilibrium in MarshallÂ’s cardinal theory of value, as presented in Note XXI of the mathematical appendix to his Principles of Economics (1890), derive from the Strong Law of Demand. That is, existence, uniqueness, optimality, and global stability of equilibrium prices with respect to tatonnement price adjustment follow from the cyclical monotonicity of the market demand function in the Marshallian general equilibrium model.

[Paper in PDF]

Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper #1399, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.

"The Incentive Effects of Affirmative Action in a Real-Effort Tournament"

Joint with Joerg Franke Pedro Rey-Biel

Journal of Public Economics Volume 98, 15-31, February 2013

Abstract: Affirmative action policies bias tournament rules in order to provide equal opportunities to a group of competitors who have a disadvantage they cannot be held responsible for. Its implementation affects the underlying incentive structure which might induce lower performance by participants, and additionally result in a selected pool of tournament winners that is less efficient. In this paper,we study the empirical validity of such concerns in a case where the disadvantage affects capacities to compete. We conducted real-effort tournaments between pairs of children from two similar schools who systematically differed in how much training they received ex-ante on the task at hand. Contrary to the expressed concerns, our results show that the implementation of affirmative action did not result in a significant performance loss for either advantaged or disadvantaged subjects; instead it rather enhanced the performance for a large group of participants. Moreover, affirmative action resulted in a more equitable tournament winner pool where half of the selected tournament winners came from the originally disadvantaged group. Hence, the negative selection effects due to the biased tournament rules were (at least partially) offset by performance enhancing incentive effects.

[Paper in PDF]

"A Comment On: School Choice: An Experimental Study"

Joint with Guillaume Haeringer and Flip Klijn

Journal of Economic Theory Volume 146, Number 1, January 2011

Abstract: We show that one of the main results in Chen and Sonmez (J. Econ. Th., 2006, 2008) does no longer hold when the number of recombinations is sufficiently increased to obtain reliable conclusions. No school choice mechanism is significantly superior in terms of efficiency.

[Paper in PDF]

Constrained School Choice: An Experimental Study

Joint with Guillaume Haeringer and Flip Klijn

American Economic Review Volume 100, Number 4, September 2010

Abstract: 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 play 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.

[Paper in PDF]

Decentralizing Equality of Opportunity

International Economic Review Volume 50, Number 1, February 2009

Abstract: In a global justice problem, equality of opportunity is satisfied if individual well-being is independent of exogenous irrelevant characteristics. Policymakers, however, address questions involving local justice problems. We interpret a collection of local justice problems as the decentralized global justice problem. We show that controlling for effort locally, which is not required by the global justice objective, is sufficient for decentralizing equality of opportunity. Moreover, under some conditions, equalizing rewards to effort is not only sufficient but necessary. This implies in particular that most affirmative action policies may not contribute to providing equality of opportunity since they do not control for effort.

[Paper in PDF]

The Nonparametric Approach to Applied Welfare Analysis

Joint with Donald J. Brown

Economic Theory Volume 31, Number 1, April 2007

Abstract: Changes in total surplus are traditional measures of economic welfare. We propose necessary and sufficient conditions for rationalizing individual and aggregate consumer demand data with individual quasilinear and homothetic utility functions. Under these conditions, consumer surplus is a valid measure of consumer welfare. For nonmarketed goods, we propose necessary and sufficient conditions on input market data for efficient production, i.e. production at minimum cost. Under these conditions we derive a cost function for the nonmarketed good, where producer surplus is the area above the marginal cost curve.

[Paper in PDF]

Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper #1507, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.

Rationalizing and Curve-Fitting Demand Data with Quasilinear Utilities

Joint with Donald J. Brown

Abstract: In the empirical and theoretical literature a consumer's utility function is often assumed to be quasilinear. In this paper we provide necessary and sufficient conditions for testing if the consumer acts as if she is maximizing a quasilinear utility function over her budget set. If the consumer's choices are inconsistent with maximizing a quasilinear utility function over her budget set, then we compute the "best" quasilinear rationalization of her choices.

[Paper in PDF]

Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper #1399R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.

Caterina Calsamiglia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, April, 2013
Send me mail: