Affirmative Action through Minority Reserves: An Experimental Study on School Choice

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Working paper
Flip Klijn, Joana Pais and Marc Vorsatz
Issue number: 
Barcelona GSE
Minority reserves are an affirmative action policy proposed by Hafalir (2013) in the context of school choice. We study in the laboratory the effect of minority reserves on the outcomes of two prominent matching mechanisms, the Gale-Shapley and the Top Trading Cycles mechanisms. Our first experimental result is that the introduction of minority reserves enhances truth-telling of some minority students under the Gale-Shapley but not under the Top Trading Cycles mechanism. Secondly, for the Gale-Shapley mechanism we also find that the stable matchings that are more beneficial to students are obtained more often relative to the other stable matchings when minority reserves are introduced. Finally, the overall expected payoff increases under the Gale-Shapley but decreases under the Top Trading Cycles mechanism if minority reserves are introduced. However, the minority group benefits and the majority group is harmed under both mechanisms.
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