The Infometrics Institute website is here.
More on information theoretic approaches to econometrics here and here (the latter authored by my many-times-over professor and likely dissertation committee member).
My co-fellow is in my cohort - Woubet Kassa. I just talked to him and he tells me he'll be continuing work he did this spring on the importance of land titling institutions for economic development. He's a great guy and I'm very excited to be working more with him this summer.
This is the proposal I sent in. It is going to fit in very well with my Sloan Foundation work using the same data:
The economic literature on grade inflation has primarily been concerned with the biased representation of student ability and the impact on student major choices. However, the studies to date are not completely satisfactory if we expect agents operating in the labor market to behave rationally. The problem of grade inflation is common knowledge, so why wouldn’t employers, students, and teachers simply adjust their expectations by an appropriate expected grade inflation factor before making their decisions? An information theoretic approach to grade inflation is potentially more fruitful. From the perspective of information theory, the critical point is not that grades are being inflated over time (agents can adjust for inflation), but that they are also being compressed due to truncation in the grading scale. This implies that grade inflation not only changes the central tendency of the grade distribution; it also reduces the entropy of grades. When employers and graduate school admissions committees review college transcripts they are interested in extracting compressed information about the student’s abilities. Additional compression as a result of grade inflation degrades this information further.
I propose an investigation of the relative entropy of grades by college major, its impact on student and employer choices and the determination of wages inside and outside one’s field. I will use the 2008/2009 Baccalaureate and Beyond survey (I already have the data), which includes college transcript data for approximately 15,000 American students who graduated in the 2008/2009 academic year. Fields of study with high entropy in grade distributions should be associated with wider dispersion in starting wages, lower labor market churning, and slower wage growth over time (because there is less to be learned about student ability due to the higher information content of grades). Fields of study with lower entropy grade distributions should have lower starting wages and less wage dispersion, but potentially more churning between jobs and wage growth over time as student abilities are learned by employers on the job. My preliminary review of the literature on grade inflation suggests that an information theoretic approach to the problem would be an original contribution. The only comparable analysis I have found is an unpublished memo by a computer science professor discussing the possibility of an information theoretic approach to understanding grade inflation.