Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation

Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Joshua D. Angrist, Yusuke Narita, Parag A. Pathak

NBER Working Paper No. 21705
Issued in November 2015
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies, Public Economics, Technical Working Papers

A growing number of school districts use centralized assignment mechanisms to allocate school seats in a manner that reflects student preferences and school priorities. Many of these assignment schemes use lotteries to ration seats when schools are oversubscribed. The resulting random assignment opens the door to credible quasi-experimental research designs for the evaluation of school effectiveness. Yet the question of how best to separate the lottery-generated variation integral to such designs from non-random preferences and priorities remains open. This paper develops easily-implemented empirical strategies that fully exploit the random assignment embedded in the widely-used deferred acceptance mechanism and its variants. We use these methods to evaluate charter schools in Denver, one of a growing number of districts that integrate charter and traditional public schools in a unified assignment system. The resulting estimates show large achievement gains from charter school attendance. Our approach expands the scope for impact evaluation by maximizing the number of students and schools that can be studied using random assignment. We also show how to use DA to identify causal effects in models with multiple school sectors.

download in pdf format
   (713 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21705

Published: Atila Abdulkadiro─člu & Joshua D. Angrist & Yusuke Narita & Parag A. Pathak, 2017. "Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1373-1432, September. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Abdulkadiroglu, Agarwal, and Pathak w21046 The Welfare Effects of Coordinated Assignment: Evidence from the NYC HS Match
Angrist, Autor, Hudson, and Pallais w20800 Leveling Up: Early Results from a Randomized Evaluation of Post-Secondary Aid
Angrist, Hull, Pathak, and Walters w21748 Leveraging Lotteries for School Value-Added: Testing and Estimation
Walters w20640 The Demand for Effective Charter Schools
Abdulkadiroglu, Hu, and Pathak w19576 Small High Schools and Student Achievement: Lottery-Based Evidence from New York City
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us