DP15389 Grantmaking

Author(s): Marco Ottaviani
Publication Date: October 2020
Keyword(s): Applications, Evaluation across fields, Formula-based allocation, Grading on a curve, Grants, Payline, Proportional allocation, Signal noise, Unraveling
JEL(s): D83, H81
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15389

The paper develops a foundational model of the decentralized allocation of subsidies through competitive grantmaking. Casting the problem in a simple supply and demand framework, we characterize the level of applications and acceptance standard that result in equilibrium. The equilibrium success rate (grants over applications) decreases in the budget, consistent with some recent evidence, if and only if the distribution of types has decreasing hazard rate. In all stable equilibria resulting when funds are allocated across fields proportionally to applications--as well as under apportionment rules in a general class characterized in the paper--an increase in noise in the evaluation in a field perversely raises applications in that field and reduces applications in all the other fields. We characterize how the design of allocation rules can be modified to improve welfare.