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Are easy grading practices induced by low demand? Evidence from Italy

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  • Maria, De Paola

Abstract

In this paper we investigate whether grades are used by educational institutions as a competition variable to attract and retain students. Using a sample of almost 26,000 students enrolled at an Italian University, we document that grades vary significantly across degrees. After controlling for students’ characteristics, class-size, classmates’ quality and degree fixed effects, it emerges that students obtain better grades and are less likely to drop-out when their degree course experiences an excess of supply. We adopt an instrumental variable strategy to account for endogeneity problems and instrument the excess of supply by using the total number of universities offering each degree course. Our IV estimates confirm that the teaching staff on degree course facing low demand tend to set lower academic standards with the result that their students obtain better grades and have a lower probability of dropping out than they might otherwise.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 14425.

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Date of creation: 06 Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14425

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Keywords: grades; higher education; grading standards;

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  1. Paul M. Anglin & Ronald Meng, 2000. "Evidence on Grades and Grade Inflation at Ontario's Universities," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 26(3), pages 361-368, September.
  2. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Working Papers 834, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. William Chan & Hao Li & Wing Suen, 2005. "A Signaling Theory of Grade Inflation," Working Papers tecipa-222, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. Massimiliano Bratti & Stefano Staffolani, 2001. "Performance accademica e scelta della facoltà universitaria: aspetti teorici e evidenza empirica," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 91(6), pages 203-244, July-Augu.
  5. Donald G. Freeman, 1999. "Grade Divergence as a Market Outcome," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(4), pages 344-351, January.
  6. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects With Random Assignment: Results For Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704, May.
  7. Zimmerman, David J., 1999. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence From a Natural Experiment," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-52, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  8. Checchi,Daniele, 2008. "The Economics of Education," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521066464, October.
  9. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  10. Figlio, David N. & Lucas, Maurice E., 2004. "Do high grading standards affect student performance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1815-1834, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Møen, Jarle & Tjelta, Martin, 2010. "Grading standards, student ability and errors in college admission," Discussion Papers 2010/5, Department of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics.

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