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The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior

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  • Marianne Bertrand
  • Jessica Pan

Abstract

This paper explores the importance of the home and school environments in explaining the gender gap in disruptive behavior. We document large differences in the gender gap across key features of the home environment -- boys do especially poorly in broken families. In contrast, we find little impact of the early school environment on noncognitive gaps. Differences in endowments explain a small part of boys' noncognitive deficit in single-mother families. More importantly, noncognitive returns to parental inputs differ markedly by gender. Broken families are associated with worse parental inputs, and boys' noncognitive development, unlike that of girls', appears extremely responsive to such inputs. (JEL I21, J12, J13, J16, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan, 2013. "The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-64, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:32-64 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.5.1.32
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter Savelyev, 2013. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 2052-2086.
    2. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    3. Carmit Segal, 2008. "Classroom Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    4. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2010. "An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, pages 210-240.
    5. Todd E. Elder & Darren H. Lubotsky, 2009. "Kindergarten Entrance Age and Children’s Achievement: Impacts of State Policies, Family Background, and Peers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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