Caterina Calsamiglia, Maia Güell, 07 October 2014

The Boston mechanism for school assignment is well studied and widely used. This column shows two crucial failings of the variation that gives priority based on neighbourhood, using an exogenous policy change in Barcelona. Since assignment to any school not picked first is unlikely, most parents make the ‘safe’ pick and rank the local school first. Moreover, the ability to deviate from the ‘safe’ ranking is greater for richer families, for whom private education is a viable outside option.

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