Equilibrium Grade Inflation with Implications for Female Interest in STEM Fields

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 19.05.2015, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Peter Arcidiacono (Duke University)


Equilibrium Grade Inflation with Implications for Female Interest in STEM Fields” (joint with Tom Ahn, Amy Hopson, and James Thomas) We estimate an equilibrium model of grading policies where professors set both an intercept and a returns to studying and ability. Professors value enrollment, learning, and student study time and set their policies taking into the account the policies of the other professors. Students respond to grading policies in their selection of courses and how much to study conditional on enrolling. Men and women are allowed to have different preferences over course types, the benefits associated with higher grades, and the cost of exerting more effort. Two decompositions are performed. First, we separate out how much of the differences in grading policies across fields is driven by differences in demand for courses in those fields and how much is due to differences in professor preferences across fields. Second, we separate out differences in female/male course taking across fields is driven by i) differences in cognitive skills, ii) differences in the valuation of grades, iii) differences in the cost of studying, and iv) differences in field preferences. We then use the structural parameters to evaluate restrictions on grading policies. Restrictions on grading policies that equalize grade distributions across classes result in higher (lower) grades in science (nonscience) fields but more (less) work being required. As women value grades more than men and find studying less costly, this restriction on grading policies results in more women pursuing the sciences and more men pursuing the nonsciences.

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