We run laboratory experiments where subjects are matched to colleges, and colleges are not strategic agents. We test the Gale-Shapley Deferred Acceptance (DA) mechanism versus the Iterative Deferred Acceptance Mechanism (IDAM), a matching mechanism based on a new family of procedures being used in the field, in which information about tentative allocations is provided while students make choices. We consider two variations of IDAM: one in which they are only informed about whether they are tentatively accepted or not (IDAM-NC) and one in which students are additionally informed at each step of the tentative cutoff values for acceptance at each school (IDAM). A significantly higher proportion of stable outcomes is reached both under IDAM and IDAM-NC than under DA. The difference can be explained by a higher proportion of subjects following an equilibrium strategy akin to truthful behavior under IDAM and IDAM-NC than truthful behavior itself under DA. Moreover, the provision of intermediate cutoff values in IDAM leads to higher rates of equilibrium behavior than in IDAM-NC and a higher robustness of stability between the rounds of experiments. Our findings provide substantial support for the rising practice of using iterative mechanisms in centralized college admissions in practice.
Market Design Matching Iterative Mechanisms College Admissions Experiments