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Instructor-Specific Grade Inflation: Incentives, Gender, and Ethnicity*


  • Author McPherson will share all data and coding for replication purposes.

Direct correspondence to Michael A. McPherson, Department of Economics, P.O. Box 311457, Denton, TX 76203-1457 <>.



This study attempts to isolate instructor-specific measures that may be sources of grade inflation and to measure their relative importance.


We estimate a fixed-effects model, using by far the most extensive data set related to grade inflation ever assembled. Our data comprise 48,038 courses taught by 1,871 distinct instructors at a large public university over a two-decade period.


Our results suggest that female faculty members are the most likely to inflate grades, while ethnicity has a lesser effect.


Characteristics of instructors, in particular gender, affect the degree of observed grade inflation, controlling for student- and department-specific effects.

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