ArcEd: The Choice Architecture of Admission to Education

In this researcher project for young talents, we investigate the determinants, constraints and consequences of admission to education. We bring together an interdisciplinary team with a background in economics of education, behavioral economics, psychology, and genetic epidemiology to provide knowledge of great use for researchers, policy makers and practitioners.


Educational systems strive to be fair and inclusive, so that each individual can reach their educational potential regardless of background. However, economic inequality has rapidly increased throughout Europe over the last decade, and educational inequality is a major contributing factor. This raises the question of whether there are educational processes that hinder students with disadvantaged backgrounds or students with special needs from reaching their potential. The ArcEd project studies one such process with the potential to affect inequality by creating or removing barriers to social mobility; admission to education.


  • Metrics: Identify the contextual determinants of measures of academic achievement used to allocate students in admission systems.
  • Choice: Understand how students’ abilities, preferences and perceptions affect the actual admission choices they make.
  • Institutions: Investigate short- and long-term effects of admission systems on individual and societal outcomes, including educational inequality.
  • Choice architecture: Systematically review the state-of-the-art literature on the organization and consequences of admission to education.


ArcEd is an interdisciplinary project (economics of education, behavioral economics, psychology and genetic epidemiology) taking a novel and ambitious approach to understanding the determinants, constraints and consequences of admission to education. The first core methodological innovation lies in the integration of an unparalleled data linkage and state-of-the-art analytical techniques across academic disciplines to study admission to upper secondary and higher education in Norway. The second core methodological innovation is the development of the novel Choice Architecture framework used to describe and understand the processes that govern admission to education (see Figure 1). The framework is comprised of three elements: 1) the metrics used as allocation criteria in admission decisions, 2) the choices students make based on their abilities, preferences and beliefs, and 3) the institutions that govern admission into education.

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Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU)

Columbia University, New York, USA

Project type

Researcher project for young talents

Research Council of Norway funding

NOK 8,000,000

Project duration

48 months

Start date

December 1, 2021

Published Nov. 25, 2021 1:58 PM - Last modified Dec. 14, 2021 3:36 PM