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Biographical Info of Atila Abdulkadiroglu

Atila Abdulkadiroglu joined the Department of Economics at Duke University in the Fall of 2006. He taught at Northwestern University and Columbia University before coming to Duke. He received his PhD in Economics at the University of Rochester and his B.S. and M.A. at Bilkent University in Turkey. His research focuses on mechanism design, market design and economics of education.

Good schools are scarce everywhere. Whereas geographical limits used to define the extend of access to schools and consequently segregated neighborhoods and schools along socioeconomic lines, recent decades have witnessed a surge in school choice programs that offer parental choice over public schools expanding families’ access to schools beyond their residence area. The introduction of choice has brought new issues for policy makers: What are the goals of a successful choice plan? Do these policy goals conflict with each other? If they do, what are the tradeoffs and how should one compromise these tradeoffs?

These questions are closely related to the design of student assignment mechanisms. The education literature provides guidance for the design of assignment mechanisms but does not offer a specific one. Also, flaws in the existing school choice plans result in difficult and stressful decision making for parents, gaming and behind-closed-doors strategies by savvy parents, as well as appeals in the US courts by unsatisfied parents.

In “School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach” (American Economic Review 2003), Atila and Tayfun Sonmez introduce the school choice problem as a mechanism design problem to the economics literature. Atila and Tayfun identify some serious shortcomings of various choice plans throughout the US, offer a theoretical framework for the problem and some solutions to some critical policy issues. Atila's work with Parag A. Pathak, Alvin E. Roth and Tayfun Sonmez has also led to the design and implementation of better admissions policies in school choice programs in the US, including Boston and New York City.

The education systems have been under scrutiny in the US and throughout the world. Major changes and alternative models to schooling have been proposed and implemented. Despite the urgency, the impact of such proposals and alternatives is not understood well. By a systematic study of various models in the US, Atila's research helps inform the debate on alternative schooling models. His research focuses on the impact of education on student achievement and factors that influence that impact and understanding demand patterns in schooling. In “Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston’s Charter, Pilot and Traditional Schools” Atila, Joshua Angrist, Susan Dynarski, Thomas Kane and Parag Pathak study the impact of Boston’s charter schools, pilot schools and traditional schools on student achievement. Atila, Josh and Parag are recently work on understanding the impact other schooling models on student achievement. Atila and Parag is also working on understanding demand patterns in schooling.

Atila is a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and a National Science Foundation CAREER award. He serves as an Editor-in-Chief of Review of Economic Design.

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