Public expenditures, educational outcomes and grade inflation: Theory and evidence from a policy intervention in the Netherlands

Kristof De Witte, Benny Geys*, Catharina Solondz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Web of Science)


This article argues that resource expansion can fail to improve actual student performance because it might cause educators to soften grading standards (i.e., induce grade inflation). Our theoretical model shows that, depending on schools’ and students’ reactions to resource changes, the overall effect of resources on education outcomes is ambiguous. Schools, however, have an incentive to adjust their grading structure following resource shifts, such that grade inflation is likely to accompany resource-driven policies. Exploiting a quasi-experimental policy intervention in the netherlands, we find that additional resources may indeed induce grade inflation, particularly when the resource increase is limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-166
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Public expenditures
  • Grade inflation
  • Educational attainment
  • Standardized central exam

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