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An Empirical Analysis of School Choice Under Uncertainty
November 18, 2015Poverty and Applied Microeconomics Seminar Series

Speaker: Kehinde Ajayi is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Boston University. More »

Abstract: This paper develops a framework for quantifying student welfare in school choice problems with uncertain admission chances. Our approach, based on optimal portfolio theory, is not subject to the curse of dimensionality and allows us to recover individual preferences along with policy-invariant primitives that generate student choices. We use counterfactual simulations to analyze the relationship between the number of choices and welfare. An application using administrative data from Ghana finds that total welfare is a concave function of the number of choices permitted -- expanding the number of choices from 1 to 2 more than doubles total welfare and reduces the number of unassigned students by 61%. Allowing students to submit an unrestricted number of choices generates five times as much total welfare as allowing for a single choice.

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Last Updated: Nov 12, 2015

The Poverty and Applied Micro Seminar Series is a weekly series hosted by the World Bank's research department. The series invites leading researchers in applied microeconomics from the fields of poverty, human development and public service delivery, agriculture and rural development, political economy, behavioral economics, private sector development, and a range of other fields to present the results of their most recent research in a seminar format. The full list of seminars can be viewed here.

Event Details
  • Date: November 18, 2015
  • Location: MC3-570
  • Time: 12:30 - 2:00 PM
  • CONTACT: Anna Bonfield
  • abonfield@worldbank.org



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