The aim of this project is to optimise the allocation procedure for kindergarten places. In many German cities, the allocation of available kindergarten places is largely uncoordinated. This leads to great uncertainty for working parents and considerable administrative work on the part of kindergarten staff. Due to an acute shortage of childcare places, parents have to compete for kindergarten places, which is why it is necessary to develop efficient allocation procedures.

As part of the project, we establish a comprehensive overview of current practices in the allocation of kindergarten places with the cooperation of local youth welfare offices. Based on these findings we then develop a more optimal procedure that builds on well-established solutions and is well-matched with the needs of parents, childcare providers and local authorities. The central focus of the project is the development and implementation of an allocation procedure that will allow nursery schools to coordinate which provider can offer which family a place and when. Allocation procedures currently used in Germany lead to the following problems, which would be resolved by the coordinated procedure we suggest:

  1. Mandatory social criteria for the allocation of places set by the city authority are often shown to have been violated.
  2. Much like in a poker game, parents are incentivised to act strategically when listing their preferences regarding providers and places.
  3. Uncoordinated allocation procedures can lead to some parents holding several offers at the same time. This means that these places are unavailable to other parents, which leads to long waiting times.

The implementation and evaluation of our optimised procedure is made possible with the cooperation of the German Association of Cities and the Gemeindetag Baden-Württemberg (Baden-Württemberg Association of Municipalities). The envisaged solution is voluntary and can be easily incorporated into existing online systems. It also upholds the legally protected rights of parents to choose their child’s nursery school as well as the autonomy of independent and church-based providers.

Selected Publications

Discussion and Working Papers

Klein, Thilo (2017), Analysis of Stable Matchings in R: Package matchingMarkets, Vignette to R package matchingMarkets, The Comprehensive R Archive Network. Download


Land Baden-Württemberg , Stuttgart , DE

Project duration

09.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


Market Design

Cooperation partner

Deutscher Städtetag, Köln, DE
Tobias Reischmann, Münster, DE