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Editor's Choice Gender of Siblings and Choice of College Major


  • Massimo Anelli
  • Giovanni Peri


In this study, we analyze whether the gender of a student’s siblings affects the choice of college major. A family with same-gender siblings may encourage academic choices that are less gender stereotyped. We use a unique dataset covering 30,000 Italian students who graduated from high school between 1985 and 2005 that allows us to identify siblings. We follow their academic careers from high school to college graduation. We find that mixed-gender siblings tend to choose college majors following a stronger gender-stereotypical specialization: males have higher probability of choosing ‘male dominated’ majors such as Engineering and Economics. Same-gender siblings, on the other hand, have higher probability of making non-gender-stereotypical choices. This college major choice is not driven by the choice of high school academic curriculum, which appears to be mainly function of geographical proximity to schools. (JEL codes: I21, J12, J16, Z18).

Suggested Citation

  • Massimo Anelli & Giovanni Peri, 2015. "Editor's Choice Gender of Siblings and Choice of College Major," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo Group, vol. 61(1), pages 53-71.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:61:y:2015:i:1:p:53-71.

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    Cited by:

    1. Fernanda Estevan & Thomas Gall & Louis-Philippe Morin, 2019. "Can Affirmative Action Affect Major Choice?," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-324, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    2. Julia Philipp, 2023. "Gendered university major choice: the role of intergenerational transmission," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 36(2), pages 1049-1097, April.
    3. Shi, Ying, 2018. "The puzzle of missing female engineers: Academic preparation, ability beliefs, and preferences," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 129-143.
    4. Gordon B. Dahl & Dan-Olof Rooth & Anders Stenberg, 2020. "Intergenerational and Sibling Spillovers in High School Majors," NBER Working Papers 27618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Anne Ardila Brenøe, 2022. "Brothers increase women’s gender conformity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(4), pages 1859-1896, October.
    6. Tao, Hung-Lin & Cheng, Hui-Pei, 2022. "Parental and sibling influence on study field choice: Gender-stereotypical or field preference transmission," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    7. Laura Cyron & Guido Schwerdt & Martina Viarengo, 2017. "The effect of opposite sex siblings on cognitive and noncognitive skills in early childhood," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(19), pages 1369-1373, November.
    8. Cools, Angela & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2017. "Sibling Gender Composition and Women's Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 11001, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Henriques, Paulo Lopes & Matos, Pedro Verga & Jerónimo, Helena Mateus & Mosquera, Pilar & da Silva, Filipa Pires & Bacalhau, João, 2018. "University or polytechnic? A fuzzy-set approach of prospective students' choice and its implications for higher education institutions' managers," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 435-441.

    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
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy


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