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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. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. William Parish & Robert J. Willis, . "Daughters, Education and Family Budgets: Taiwan Experiences," University of Chicago - Population Research Center, Chicago - Population Research Center 92-8a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  3. 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.
  4. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wößmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 1, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  5. Joseph G. Altonji, 1991. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 3714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Simon Burgess & Brendon McConnell & Carol Propper & Deborah Wilson, 2003. "Girls Rock, Boys Roll: An Analysis of the Age 14-16 Gender Gap in English Schools," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK 03/084, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  7. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  10. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers, Institute for Fiscal Studies W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  12. 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, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
  13. 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.
  14. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2002. "Gender Differences in Completed Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," Working Papers in Economics, University of Bergen, Department of Economics 08/03, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  16. Galeotti, Andrea & Mueller, Gerrit, 2005. "Friendship Relations in the School Class and Adult Economic Attainment," IZA Discussion Papers 1682, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, 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. Nicole Schneeweis & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "Early tracking and the misfortune of being young," Economics working papers, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria 2009-11, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Weber, Andrea, 2006. "Educational Effects of Alternative Secondary School Tracking Regimes in Germany," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL) 35977, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL).
  3. Daniele Checchi & Giorgio Brunello, 2006. "Does School Tracking Affect Equality of Opportunity? New International Evidence," UNIMI - Research Papers in Economics, Business, and Statistics, Universitá degli Studi di Milano unimi-1044, Universitá degli Studi di Milano.
  4. Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2011. "Age at pubertal onset and educational outcomes," Research Papers in Economics, Stockholm University, Department of Economics 2011:26, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  5. Mühlenweg, Andrea Maria, 2007. "Educational Effects of Early or Later Secondary School Tracking in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research 07-079, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  6. Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2007. "Educational Effects of Widening Access to the Academic Track: A Natural Experiment," CEE Discussion Papers, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE 0085, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  7. 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.
  8. Puhani, Patrick A. & Weber, Andrea M., 2007. "Persistence of the School Entry Age Effect in a System of Flexible Tracking," IZA Discussion Papers 2965, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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. Erin Machin & Sandra McNally, 2007. "Educational effects of widening access to the academic track: a natural experiment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library 3648, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Kristian Koerselman, 2009. "Anticipatory effects of curriculum tracking," Discussion Papers, Aboa Centre for Economics 47, Aboa Centre for Economics.

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