Thomas Ahn

Naval Postgraduate School
247 Ingersoll Hall
Monterey, CA 93943

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Naval Postgraduate School

NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2019Equilibrium Grade Inflation with Implications for Female Interest in STEM Majors
with Peter Arcidiacono, Amy Hopson, James R. Thomas: w26556
Substantial earnings differences exist across majors with the majors that pay well also having lower grades and higher workloads. We show that the harsher grading policies in STEM courses disproportionately affect women. To show this, we estimate a model of student demand courses and optimal effort choices of students conditional on the chosen courses. Instructor 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 helps to close the STEM gender gap as well as increasing overall enrollment in STEM classes.
September 2014The Impact of No Child Left Behind's Accountability Sanctions on School Performance: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from North Carolina
with Jacob Vigdor: w20511
Comparisons of schools that barely meet or miss criteria for adequate yearly progress (AYP) reveal that some sanctions built into the No Child Left Behind accountability regime exert positive impacts on students. Estimates indicate that the strongest positive effects associate with the ultimate sanction: leadership and management changes associated with school restructuring. We find suggestive incentive effects in schools first entering the NCLB sanction regime, but no significant effects of intermediate sanctions. Further analysis shows that gains in sanctioned schools are concentrated among low-performing students, with the exception of gains from restructuring which are pervasive. We find no evidence that schools achieve gains among low-performing students by depriving high-performi...
July 2014When Incentives Matter Too Much: Explaining Significant Responses to Irrelevant Information
with Jacob L. Vigdor: w20321
When economic agents make decisions on the basis of an information set containing both a continuous variable and a discrete signal based on that variable, theory suggests that the signal should have no bearing on behavior conditional on the variable itself. Numerous empirical studies, many based on the regression discontinuity design, have contradicted this basic prediction. We propose two models of behavior capable of rationalizing this observed behavior, one based on information acquisition costs and a second on learning and imperfect information. Using data on school responses to discrete signals embedded in North Carolina's school accountability system, we find patterns of results inconsistent with the first model but consistent with the second. These results imply that rational re...
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us