Lotteries in the Atlantic

While I was out of town this weekend (for a conference–some good lottery-related discussion there, BTW), no fewer than 2 friends brought to my attention this recent piece from the Atlantic. It proposes that highly competitive universities deem admissible twice as many students as they have positions to fill, then select randomly from this list. A very sensible idea–from my own experience at competitive universities, I have little doubt that there are at least as many qualified applicants rejected as accepted.

Anyway, here’s the link:

3 Responses

  1. ‘Atlantic’ always good for well-thought out articles, so why in this case did they fail to notice the tried-and-trusted Netherlands lottery system?


  2. A thoughtful article — I particularly like the Walzer-derived argument that hyper-selective meritocracy leads to worse outcomes than stratified sampling. It’s hard to think of a single argument against it (though some on this list will dislike the stratified element) and it would be a good way of legitimising sortition in the eyes of future elites. How could you oppose sortition if you owe your own Ivy League place to it?


  3. Conall, perhaps one reason for not discussing the Netherlands case is that the stratified selection process used in that case has a logic very much unlike the logic he describes. I know that many Kleroterians think the difference isn’t all that important, but for me it really does make them apples and oranges.


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