Working Papers

Abstract: Inferring applicant preferences is fundamental in many analyses of school-choice data. Application mistakes make this task challenging. We propose a novel approach to deal with the mistakes in a deferred-acceptance matching environment. The key insight is that the uncertainties faced by applicants, e.g., due to tie-breaking lotteries, render some mistakes costly, allowing us to reliably infer relevant preferences. Our approach extracts all information on preferences robustly to payoff-insignificant mistakes. We apply it to school-choice data from Staten Island, NYC. Counterfactual analysis suggests that we underestimate the effects of proposed desegregation reforms when applicants’ mistakes are not accounted for in preference inference and estimation.

Paper presented at: Boston College, Sciences Po, PSE, Columbia University, HKUST, USC, SNU, University of Tokyo, ASU, University of Toronto, UT San Antonio, NBER IO Program meeting 2020, ESWC 2020, WEAI 2023, AMES 2023, NASM 2023, Australian Education Markets Networks, NBER Market Design Working Group 2023, 2023 KAEA Job Market Conference, SEA 2023 (scheduled)

Abstract: We explore how students' previously attended schools influence their subsequent school choices and how this relationship affects school segregation. Using administrative data from New York City, we document the causal effects of the middle school a student attends on her high school application/assignment. Motivated by this finding, we estimate a dynamic model of middle and high school choices. We find that the middle schools' effects mainly operate by changing how students rank high schools rather than how high schools rank their applications. Counterfactual analysis shows that policymakers can design more effective policies by exploiting the dynamic relationship of school choices.

Paper presented at: University of Tokyo, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Tulane University, University of California San Diego, NASMES 2022, ESAM 2022, ACM EC 2022, DSE 2022, HUFS, UC Riverside, KAEA Micro Group, Yale University, PSE, University of Michigan, CESifo, 2024 Cowles Model and Measurement, 

Abstract: We develop a signaling model of prestige seeking in competitive college applications. A prestigious program attracts high-ability applicants, making its admissions more selective, which in turn further increases its prestige, and so on. This amplifying effect results in a program with negligible quality advantage enjoying a significant prestige in equilibrium. Furthermore, applicants “sacrifice” their fits for programs in pursuit of prestige, which results in misallocation of program fits. Major choice data from Seoul National University provides evidence for our theoretical predictions when majors are assigned through competitive screening—a common feature of college admissions worldwide.

Paper presented at: City University of Hong Kong, KDI, Korea University, NUS, Seoul National University, KAAE, KEA/KAEA, SAET, APIOC, USC, UC Santa Barbara

Abstract: We explore the impact of centralized school assignment reforms with a unified framework of households’ residential location choice, school choice, and enrollment decisions. We model households deciding where to live by considering that residential locations determine access to school---admissions probabilities and commuting distances to schools. Households are heterogeneous both in observed and unobserved characteristics, generating rich residential and school segregation patterns. We estimate the model using administrative data from New York City's middle school choice system. Variation from a boundary discontinuity design separately identifies access-to-school preferences from other location amenities. Residential sorting based on access-to-school preference explains 30% of the cross-race gap in test scores of schools students attend. If households' residential locations were fixed, a reform that equalizes admissions probabilities to schools in lower Manhattan would reduce the cross-racial gap by 7%. However, households’ endogenous location choices dampen the effect by half. Households’ opting out of public schools to outside schooling options play a smaller role in evaluating how effectively the reform would reduce the cross-racial gap.

Paper presented at: Wash-U EGSC 2021, APPAM 2021,  OSU Ph.D. Conference on Real Estate and Housing 2022, SOLE 2022, UEA Summer School 2022, UEA North American Meeting, Australian Education Markets Network, KAEA (Best Job Market Paper Award), University of Virginia, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Washington University in St. Louis, Ohio State University, University of Delaware, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Columbia University-Teachers College, Southern Economic Association 2023 Meeting, PSE, USC, ASU

Work in Progress

"What Makes NYC Specialized High Schools So Special?: Relating School Effectiveness and Student Preferences"

Dormant. Draft available on request.

Abstract: New York City (NYC) specialized high schools are highly selective and popular among students and parents. Nevertheless, the reason why those schools are so popular compared to non-specialized high schools has not been studied yet. This paper aims to answer the question in the context of academic performance, by studying the relationship among three factors: preference of specialized high schools applicants, peer qualities and causal effectiveness of those schools. First, a unique feature of NYC public high school admission system enables me to link preferences on specialized high schools and non-specialized high schools and hence to jointly estimate those using students' rank-ordered lists. Next, I estimate the value-added of schools that corrects endogenous selection following Abdulkadiroglu et al. (2017), and finally link them to the estimated preference in the first step. I preliminarily find the additional valuation that students and parents put on specialized high schools relative to non-specialized high schools is mostly related with higher peer quality at specialized high schools.

“Information, Match Quality, and the Design of Student-School Assignment Mechanisms”     (with Chao Fu and Minseon Park  Grant application in process

Note: Paper presentations include coauthors' presentations.