Archives for preferences



A Better Way to Rank Colleges?

Amidst another scandal surrounding U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings, economists Christopher N. Avery, Mark E. Glickman, Caroline M. Hoxby, and Andrew Metrick have proposed another option: rankings based on students’ revealed preferences. Here’s the abstract:

We present a method of ranking U.S. undergraduate programs based on students’ revealed preferences. When a student chooses a college among those that have admitted him, that college “wins” his “tournament.” Our method efficiently integrates the information from thousands of such tournaments. We implement the method using data from a national sample of high-achieving students. We demonstrate that this ranking method has strong theoretical properties, eliminating incentives for colleges to adopt strategic, inefficient admissions policies to improve their rankings. We also show empirically that our ranking is (1) not vulnerable to strategic manipulation; (2) similar regardless of whether we control for variables, such as net cost, that vary among a college’s admits; (3) similar regardless of whether we account for students selecting where to apply, including Early Decision. We exemplify multiple rankings for different types of students who have preferences that vary systematically.

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Question of the Day: Should We Just Let Murderers Do Their Thing?

A reader named Mark Kozel writes to say:

I heard that Chicago will be pouring up to $14 million into police overtime to prevent murder and violent crime.

It got me thinking: is it cheaper to prevent this kind of crime, or to just let it happen and clean up the mess afterwards?

It would be hard to find many people, even economists, who would arguing that “just letting it happen” isn’t an outcome that society should even think about accepting. Read More »



A Rose is a Rose is a Preference Signal

A rose by any other name is just as sweet, isn’t it? Even virtual roses used in Korean online dating experiments. In a new working paper by main author Soohyung Lee of the University of Maryland, economists studied the impact on preference signaling – signals sent to a select few.

In the study, a major online dating company in Korea organized dating events with 613 participants, half men and half women. Everyone was given two free “virtual roses” that they could attach to an e-mail to a fellow participant, and a few were given 8 virtual roses. Although these roses cost nothing, attaching a rose to an e-mail drastically increased rates of acceptance, even among different “desirability” groups. Read More »