IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jcecon/v46y2018i3p874-888.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Math, girls and socialism

Author

Listed:
  • Lippmann, Quentin
  • Senik, Claudia

Abstract

This paper argues that the socialist episode in East Germany, which constituted a radical experiment in gender equality in the labor market and other instances, has left persistent tracks on gender norms. We focus on one of the most resilient and pervasive gender gaps in modern societies: mathematics. Using the German division as a natural experiment, we show that the underperformance of girls in math is sharply reduced in the regions of the former GDR, in contrast with those of the former FRG. We show that this East–West difference is due to girls’ attitudes, confidence and competitiveness in math, and not to other confounding factors, such as the difference in economic conditions or teaching styles across the former political border. We also provide illustrative evidence that the gender gap in math is smaller in European countries that used to be part of the Soviet bloc, as opposed to the rest of Europe. The lesson is twofold: (1) a large part of the pervasive gender gap in math is due to social stereotypes; (2) institutions can durably modify these stereotypes.

Suggested Citation

  • Lippmann, Quentin & Senik, Claudia, 2018. "Math, girls and socialism," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 874-888.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:3:p:874-888
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2018.07.013
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0147596718302476
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
    2. Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln & Paolo Masella, 2016. "Long-Lasting Effects of Socialist Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 428-441, July.
    3. Francine Blau & Lawrence Kahn & Albert Liu & Kerry Papps, 2013. "The transmission of women’s fertility, human capital, and work orientation across immigrant generations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 405-435, April.
    4. Nicole M. Fortin & Philip Oreopoulos & Shelley Phipps, 2015. "Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(3), pages 549-579.
    5. Glenn Ellison & Ashley Swanson, 2010. "The Gender Gap in Secondary School Mathematics at High Achievement Levels: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 109-128, Spring.
    6. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2010. "Explaining the Gender Gap in Math Test Scores: The Role of Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 129-144, Spring.
    7. González de San Román, Ainara & de la Rica, Sara, 2012. "Gender Gaps in PISA Test Scores: The Impact of Social Norms and the Mother's Transmission of Role Attitudes," IZA Discussion Papers 6338, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence Kahn, 2016. "The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations," CESifo Working Paper Series 5722, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    10. Rainer, Helmut & Siedler, Thomas, 2009. "Does democracy foster trust?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 251-269, June.
    11. Joseph G. Altonji & Erica Blom & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 185-223, July.
    12. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2017. "Religion and work: Micro evidence from contemporary Germany," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 193-214.
    13. Raquel Fernández, 2010. "Does Culture Matter?," NBER Working Papers 16277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2017. "The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(3), pages 789-865, September.
    15. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-177, January.
    16. Joseph G. Altonji, 1995. "The Effects of High School Curriculum on Education and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 409-438.
    17. Claudia Goldin, 2014. "A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1091-1119, April.
    18. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
    19. Jerik Hanushek & Dennis Kimko, 2006. "Schooling, Labor-force Quality, and the Growth of Nations," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 1, pages 154-193.
    20. Juanna Schrøter Joensen & Helena Skyt Nielsen, 2009. "Is there a Causal Effect of High School Math on Labor Market Outcomes?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    21. Stefan Bauernschuster & Helmut Rainer, 2012. "Political regimes and the family: how sex-role attitudes continue to differ in reunified Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(1), pages 5-27, January.
    22. Lippmann, Quentin & Georgieff, Alexandre & Senik, Claudia, 2019. "Undoing Gender with Institutions: Lessons from the German Division and Reunification," IZA Discussion Papers 12212, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    23. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
    24. Natalia Nollenberger & Núria Rodríguez-Planas & Almudena Sevilla, 2016. "The Math Gender Gap: The Role of Culture," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 257-261, May.
    25. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2010. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and Socialization," Post-Print halshs-00754788, HAL.
    26. Pamela Campa & Michel Serafinelli, "undated". "Politico-Economic Regimes and Attitudes: Female Workers Under State-Socialism," Working Papers 2015-25, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 29 Nov 2015.
    27. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
    28. Fuchs-Schundeln, Nicola & Alesina, Alberto, 2007. "Good-Bye Lenin (Or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," Scholarly Articles 4553032, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    29. Fernández, Raquel, 2010. "Does Culture Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 5122, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    30. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2010. "An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 210-240, April.
    31. Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2010. "Geographic Variation in the Gender Differences in Test Scores," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 95-108, Spring.
    32. Prashant Bharadwaj & Giacomo De Giorgi & David Hansen & Christopher A. Neilson, 2016. "The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Chile," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(1), pages 141-166.
    33. Fernández, Raquel, 2010. "Does Culture Matter?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7965, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    34. Görges, Luise & Beblo, Miriam, 2015. "Breaking down the wall between nature and nurture: An exploration of gendered work preferences in East and West Germany," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112825, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    35. Quentin Lippmann & Alexandre Georgieff & Claudia Senik, 2016. "Undoing Gender with Institutions. Lessons from the German Division and Reunification," PSE Working Papers halshs-01297653, HAL.
    36. Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "The Market for College Graduates and the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 229-233, May.
    37. Amini, Chiara & Commander, Simon, 2012. "Educational scores: How does Russia fare?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 508-527.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Nikolova, Milena & Popova, Olga & Otrachshenko, Vladimir, 2019. "Stalin and the Origins of Mistrust," IZA Discussion Papers 12326, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Artjoms Ivlevs & Milena Nikolova & Olga Popova, 2019. "Former Communist party membership and present-day entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe," Working Papers 384, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).
    3. Gielen, Anne C. & Zwiers, Esmée, 2018. "Biology and the Gender Gap in Educational Performance: The Role of Prenatal Testosterone in Test Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 11936, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. QuentinLippmann & ClaudiaSenik, 2019. "The Impact of the Socialist Episode on Gender Norms in Germany," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 17(03), pages 30-35, October.
    5. Chandan Jain, 2019. "Analysing Changes in Gender Difference in Learning in Rural India over Time," Journal of Quantitative Economics, Springer;The Indian Econometric Society (TIES), vol. 17(4), pages 913-935, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender gap in math; Institutions; German division; Gender stereotypes;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:3:p:874-888. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622864 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.