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Grading on a Curve, and other Effects of Group Size on All-Pay Auctions

  • James Andreoni
  • Andy Brownback

We model contests with a fixed proportion of prizes, such as a grading curve, as all-pay auctions where higher effort weakly increases the likelihood of a prize. We find theoretical predictions for the effect of contest size on effort and test our predictions in a laboratory experiment that compares two-bidder auctions with one prize and 20-bidder auctions with ten prizes. Our results demonstrate that larger contests elicit lower effort by low-skilled students, but higher effort by high-skilled. Large contests also generate more accurate rankings of students and more accurate assignment of high grades to the high-skilled.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 20184.

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Date of creation: May 2014
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20184
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