The price of forced attendance
We draw on a discontinuity at a large university, wherein second-year students with a low first-year grade point average are allocated to a full year of forced, frequent, and regular attendance, to estimate the causal effect of additional structure on academic performance. We show that the policy increases student attendance but has no average effect on grades. The effects differ, however, depending on how course instructors handled unforced students, such that we observe significant grade decreases in courses where unforced students were given full discretion over their attendance. Our evidence suggests that grades decrease in these courses because the policy prevented forced students from picking their desired mix of study inputs.