Information Acquisition and Provision in School Choice

When participating in school choice, students rarely know perfectly their preferences over schools, and acquiring such information is costly. We study how two popular school choice mechanisms, the Immediate Acceptance and the Deferred Acceptance mechanisms, incentivize students’ information acquisition.

Start date: 9/1/2016
End date: 8/31/2019

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What if you discovered that the majority of students at your school did poorly on standardized tests? Would you prefer to attend a school with a higher-performing student body? Current data suggests that most people would switch schools when given this type of relevant information. Unfortunately, for people in lower-income groups, it’s not so easy to access this data. The repercussions of this are long lasting for education experiences, jobs, and future earning potential.

As principal investigator Yan Chen will conduct the first experiment investigating information acquisition and provision in the context of school choice. Her research will be funded by a $10,000 award from the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics. Chen’s grant “Information Acquisition and Provision in School Choice” will evaluate how people acquire metrics about various schools and provide insight into how policies could reduce inequality and, subsequently, increase the upward mobility of students from low-income families. 

Chen and her team will be testing their hypotheses in a laboratory setting with 12 participants. They want to understand the implications when someone faces expensive barriers to acquiring information. They will then determine how to incentivize students and their families to acquire data on schools that could directly impact the family’s choice of attending a school where more students receive high test scores.


Information Acquisition and Provision in School Choice, IFREE: $10,000

The International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE) was inspired originally by Mary Caslin Ross and the work of Dr. Vernon L. Smith to support research and education in experimental economics.  IFREE is the only foundation annually supporting research projects, educational seminars and outreach workshops in experimental economics.