Blocking pairs versus blocking students: Stability comparisons in school choice
Article [Version of Record]
Publisher(s)Université de Montréal. Département de sciences économiques.
It is known that there are school choice problems without an efficient and stable assignment. We consider comparing assignments in terms of their stability by comparing their sets of blocking (student-school) pairs or comparing their sets of blocking students who are involved in at least one blocking pair. Although there always exists a Pareto improvement over the student-optimal stable (DA) assignment which is minimally unstable among efficient assignments when the stability comparison is based on comparing the sets of blocking pairs in the set-inclusion sense, we show that this is not necessarily true when the stability comparison is based on comparing the sets of blocking pairs in the cardinal sense, or when it is based on comparing sets of blocking students (in the set-inclusion or cardinal sense). Given the latter impossibilities, we characterize the priority profiles where there exists a Pareto improvement over the DA mechanism which is cardinally minimally stable among efficient assignments when counting blocking pairs or counting blocking students. The resulting domain restrictions suggest to take with caution school choice analysis which relies on a particular stability comparison method.