DEM Lunch Seminar with Nuria Rodriguez-Planas, City University of New York, USA

  • Location

    Campus Kirchberg

    6, Rue Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi

    1359, Luxembourg, Luxembourg

  • Topic(s)
    Economics & Management
  • Type(s)
    Free of charge, In-person event, Lectures and seminars

Unintended Effects of the Flexible Grading Policy


Using an unbalanced panel of 19,464 academic records spanning from Spring 2019 to Spring 2022 representing about one fourth of Queens College undergraduate student population and estimating event study analyses with individual fixed effects to control for time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity, we find unintended effects of the flexible grading policy (FGP), which allowed students to exercise the pass/fail option during the first academic year of the pandemic. Once the policy was no longer available, students who had used it underperformed relative to their own pre-pandemic performance relative to the change in performance of students who had never used the policy. FGP users earned 6.5%, 6% and 3.7% lower GPA in Spring 2021, Fall 2021, and Spring 2022 relative to Fall 2019 relative to the change observed among FGP non-users. This pattern is robust to sensitivity analysis and placebo tests. It also holds across tiers of the 2019 cumulative GPA distribution, as well as across various socio-demographic groups. Furthermore, these detrimental effects increased with the intensity of the policy use. Students’ response to a survey rules out that these findings may be driven by pandemic-related health shocks, childcare disruptions, or challenges with online learning, financial aid, or job loss. We estimate that using the FGP is associated with a 11% lower likelihood of graduating and a 21% lower likelihood of graduating on-time by Spring 2022. No such negative effect is found using an earlier placebo period.

About Nuria Rodriguez-Planas:

Nuria Rodriguez-Planas is Professor of Economics at City University of New York (CUNY), Queens College, and Doctoral Faculty at The Graduate Center at CUNY. In 2023, she received a 5-year ERC Advanced Grant from the European Research Council to lead the project “The Causal Effect of Motherhood, Gender Norms, and Cash Transfers to Women on Intimate Partner Violence (WomEmpower).” Starting in 2024, she will be Distinguished Researcher at the Universitat de Barcelona. In 2022, she was named Russell Sage Foundation Scholar. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Society of Economics of the Household and was the managing editor of the IZA Journal of Labor Policy (2012-23). During the academic years 2020 to 2022, she was Research Scholar at Barnard College at Columbia University. Prior to moving to New York, she was Research Fellow at IZA in Bonn (2012-15); Visiting Professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Institut d’Analisi Economica (2012-13); Assistant Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2004-12); and Affiliated Professor at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (2007-12). She has also held positions in Washington DC as an Economist at Mathematica Policy Research (2000-04), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1998-2000), and the Brookings Institution (1997-98). She received her Ph.D. in Economics in 1999 from Boston University. Her research is mostly distributed across three broad highly policy-relevant topics: (1) Policies, Institutions, and Social Justice in Labor Economics and Human Capital Development; (2) Social Norms and Behavioral Decisions; and (3) Public Health Issues.

Language: English

– Free seminar
– Registration link as of February 27th, 2024

Tel: +352 46 66 44 6283

Joint work with Mehlika Ozsoy

Supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) 17931929