Efficiency and fair access in Kindergarten allocation policy design

DOI link to open access article: Efficiency and fair access in Kindergarten allocation policy design

André Veski, Péter Biró, Kaire Põder, Triin Lauri

Journal of Mechanism and Institution Design
Volume 2, issue 1, pages 57-104 (December 2017)
doi: 10.22574/jmid.2017.12.003


We examine Kindergarten allocation practices in an Estonian municipality, Harku. Based on our recommendations, the allocation mechanism in Harku was redesigned in 2016. The new mechanism produces a child-optimal stable matching, with priorities primarily based on siblings and distance. We evaluate seven policy designs based on 2016 admission data in order to understand efficiency and fairness trade-offs. In addition to the descriptive data analysis, we conduct a counter-factual policy comparison and sensitivity analysis using computational experiments with generated preferences. We fix the allocation mechanism to be the child-oriented Deferred-Acceptance algorithm, but we vary how the priorities are created by altering sibling and distance factors. Different lotteries are included for breaking ties. We find that different ways of considering the same priority factors can have a significant aggregate effect on the allocation. Additionally, we survey a dozen special features that can create significant challenges (both theoretical and practical) in redesigning the allocation mechanism in Estonian Kindergartens, and potentially elsewhere as well.

Keywords: Kindergarten allocation, Policy design, Mechanism design.

JEL Classification Numbers: C78, D47, D50, H75.