Research

Research Fields

Labor Economics, Economics of Education.

Published Articles

“The signal quality of grades across academic fields.”  Journal of Applied Econometrics, 34(4) (June/July, 2019): 566-587. (Working paper version)

“The effects of Greek affiliation on academic performance,” with Andrew De Donato.  Economics of Education Review, 57 (April, 2017): 41-51. (Working paper version)

Working Papers

“What do course offerings imply about university preferences?”  Second Resubmission to Journal of Labor Economics.

This paper empirically analyzes how universities decide which courses to offer and the implications of these decisions for students. At a sample university, course offerings significantly impact student course choices and implicitly sacrifice student utility to increase enrollment in STEM and business and occupational courses. This is because new STEM and business and occupational course sections have slightly smaller effects on student utility and cost substantially more than new offerings in other fields. The university changes its course offerings in counterfactual scenarios and ignoring these responses leads to understating the effects of interventions.

“Equilibrium Grade Inflation with Implications for Female Interest in STEM Majors,” (with Thomas Ahn, Peter Arcidiacono, and Amy Hopson).  Resubmitted to Econometrica.

Substantial earnings differences exist across majors with those that pay well also assigning lower grades and higher workloads. We show that the stricter grading policies in STEM and economics courses reduce STEM enrollment, especially for women. To show this, we estimate a model of student demand for courses and optimal effort choices of students given professor grading policies. Professor grading policies are treated as equilibrium objects that in part depend on student demand for courses. Restrictions on grading policies that equalize average grades across classes reduce the STEM gender gap and increase overall enrollment in STEM classes.

“Improving the Signal Quality of Grades,” (with Adam Chilton, Peter Joy, and Kyle Rozema).  Revise and Resubmit at Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.

We investigate how improving the signal quality of grades could enhance the matching of students to selective opportunities that are awarded early in academic programs. To do so, we develop methods to measure the signal quality of grades and to estimate the impact of changes to university policies on the identification of exceptional students for these opportunities. We focus on law schools, a setting where students are awarded important academic and professional opportunities after just one year of a three-year program. Using transcript data from one top law school over a 40-year period, we document large gains in identifying exceptional students if reasonable changes were made to certain personnel, course, and grading policies. Our findings provide motivation and a blueprint for how universities could leverage their internal records to ensure that fewer exceptional students miss out on selective opportunities.