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Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of the Tracking Age from a Finnish Quasi-Experiment

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  • Pekkarinen, Tuomas

    ()
    (Government Institute for Economic Research, Helsinki)

Abstract

This paper studies the relationship between the timing of tracking of pupils into vocational and academic secondary education and gender differences in educational attainment and income. We argue that in a system that streams students into vocational and academic tracks relatively late (age 15-16), girls are more likely to choose the academic track than boys because of gender differences in the timing of puberty. We exploit the Finnish comprehensive school reform of the 1970's to analyze this hypothesis. This reform postponed the tracking of students from the age of 10-11 to 15-16 and was adopted gradually by municipalities so that we can observe members of the same cohorts in both systems. We find that the postponement of the tracking age increased gender differences in the probability of choosing the academic secondary education and in the probability of continuing into academic tertiary education. The reform had particularily negative effects on boys from non-academic family backgrounds. Finally, the reform decreased the gender wage gap in adult income by four percentage points.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1897.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1897

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Keywords: tracking; gender wage gap; education;

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References

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  1. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
  2. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2003. "Gender Differences in Completed Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 559-577, August.
  3. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 815, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  6. Andrea Galeotti & Gerrit M�ller, 2005. "Friendship Relations in the School Class and Adult Economic Attainment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-032/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 08 Aug 2005.
  7. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2003. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-036, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
  9. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wössmann, 2006. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences- in-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages C63-C76, 03.
  10. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  11. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? International Evidence From Changes in School-Leaving Laws," NBER Working Papers 10155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Altonji, Joseph G, 1993. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes Are Uncertain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 48-83, January.
  14. Wim P. M. Vijverberg, 1993. "Educational Investments and Returns for Women and Men in Côte d'Ivoire," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(4), pages 933-974.
  15. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  16. Simon Burgess & Brendon McConnell & Carol Propper & Deborah Wilson, 2004. "Girls Rock, Boys Roll: An Analysis of the Age 14-16 Gender Gap in English Schools," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(2), pages 209-229, 05.
  17. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Erin Machin & Sandra McNally, 2007. "Educational effects of widening access to the academic track: a natural experiment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3648, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Puhani, Patrick A. & Weber, Andrea M., 2007. "Persistence of the School Entry Age Effect in a System of Flexible Tracking," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-370, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  3. Weber, Andrea, 2006. "Educational Effects of Alternative Secondary School Tracking Regimes in Germany," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 35977, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL).
  4. Giorgio Brunello & Daniele Checchi, 2007. "Does school tracking affect equality of opportunity? New international evidence," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 22, pages 781-861, October.
  5. Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2007. "Educational Effects of Widening Access to the Academic Track: A Natural Experiment," CEE Discussion Papers 0085, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. Nicole Schneeweis & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "Early tracking and the misfortune of being young," Economics working papers 2009-11, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  7. Mühlenweg, Andrea Maria, 2007. "Educational Effects of Early or Later Secondary School Tracking in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-079, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. Kristian Koerselman, 2009. "Anticipatory effects of curriculum tracking," Discussion Papers 47, Aboa Centre for Economics.
  9. Brunello, Giorgio & Fort, Margherita & Weber, Guglielmo, 2007. "“For One More Year with You”: Changes in Compulsory Schooling, Education and the Distribution of Wages in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 3102, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Birkenfeld, Florian & Hanafy, Shima'a, 2008. "Wie zentral sind die Abschlussprüfungen an deutschen Schulen wirklich?," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-55-08, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
  11. Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2011. "Age at pubertal onset and educational outcomes," Research Papers in Economics 2011:26, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.

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