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Why Are Single-Sex Schools Successful?

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  • Dustmann, Christian
  • Ku, Hyejin
  • Kwak, Do Won

Abstract

We exploit two unusual policy features of academic high schools in Seoul, South Korea—random assignment of pupils to high schools within districts and conversion of some existing single-sex schools to the coeducational (coed) type over time—to identify three distinct causal parameters: the between-school effect of attending a coed (versus a single-sex) school; the within-school effect of school-type conversion, conditional on (unobserved) school characteristics; and the effect of class-level exposure to mixed-gender (versus same-sex) peers. We find robust evidence that pupils in single-sex schools outperform their counterparts in coed schools, which could be due to single-sex peers in school and classroom, or unobservable school-level covariates. Focusing on switching schools, we find that the conversion of the pupil gender type from single-sex to coed leads to worse academic outcomes for both boys and girls, conditional on school fixed effects and time-varying observables. While for boys, the negative effect is largely driven by exposure to mixed-gender peers at school-level, it is class-level exposure to mixed-gender peers that explains this disadvantage for girls.

Suggested Citation

  • Dustmann, Christian & Ku, Hyejin & Kwak, Do Won, 2018. "Why Are Single-Sex Schools Successful?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 79-99.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:54:y:2018:i:c:p:79-99
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2018.06.005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender; Single sex schools; School inputs; Random assignment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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