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

Author

Listed:
  • James Andreoni
  • Andy Brownback

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • James Andreoni & Andy Brownback, 2014. "Grading on a Curve, and other Effects of Group Size on All-Pay Auctions," NBER Working Papers 20184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20184
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20184.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education

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