IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/wly/soecon/v87y2020i2p416-439.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Educational gender gaps

Author

Listed:
  • Shelly Lundberg

Abstract

Cross‐country studies reveal two consistent gender gaps in education—underachievement in school by boys and low rates of participation in STEM studies by girls. Recent economics research has shown the importance of social influences on women's STEM avoidance, but male low achievement has been less‐studied and tends to be attributed to behavior problems and deficient non‐cognitive skills. I revisit the determinants of the gender gap in U.S. educational attainment with a relatively‐advantaged sample of young men and women and find that school behavior and measured skills are not very important drivers of gender differences, particularly in the transition to college. Educational aspirations, on the other hand, are strongly predictive of educational gaps and the gender difference in aspirations cannot be explained, even with rich adolescent data that includes parental expectations and school achievement indicators. These results suggest that gender identity concerns may influence (and damage) the educational prospects of boys as well as girls through norms of masculinity that discourage academic achievement.

Suggested Citation

  • Shelly Lundberg, 2020. "Educational gender gaps," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 87(2), pages 416-439, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:soecon:v:87:y:2020:i:2:p:416-439
    DOI: 10.1002/soej.12460
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/soej.12460
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1002/soej.12460?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Vincent O’ Sullivan & Ian Walker, 2013. "The impact of parental income and education on the schooling of their children," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, December.
    2. Lucia Rizzica, 2018. "Raising aspirations and higher education: evidence from the UK’s Widening Participation policy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1188, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    3. Papageorge, Nicholas & Ronda, Victor & Zheng, Yu, 2014. "The Economic Value of Breaking Bad: Misbehavior, Schooling and the Labor Market," Economics Working Paper Archive 64574, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised 16 Jun 2020.
    4. 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.
    5. Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 203-241.
    6. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 17, pages 1543-1590, Elsevier.
    7. Lei, Ziteng & Lundberg, Shelly, 2020. "Vulnerable Boys: Short-term and Long-term Gender Differences in the Impacts of Adolescent Disadvantage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 424-448.
    8. 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.
    9. Brenøe, Anne Ardila & Lundberg, Shelly, 2018. "Gender gaps in the effects of childhood family environment: Do they persist into adulthood?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 42-62.
    10. Angela Cools & Raquel Fernandez & Eleonora Patacchini, 2019. "Girls, Boys, and High Achievers," Working Papers 2019-032, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    11. Garance Genicot & Debraj Ray, 2017. "Aspirations and Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 489-519, March.
    12. 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.
    13. Nicoletti, Cheti & Tonei, Valentina, 2017. "The Response of Parental Time Investments to the Child's Skills and Health," IZA Discussion Papers 10993, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2016. "Boy-Girl Differences in Parental Time Investments: Evidence from Three Countries," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(4), pages 399-441.
    15. Marta Favara, 2017. "Do Dreams Come True? Aspirations and Educational Attainments of Ethiopian Boys and Girls," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 26(5), pages 561-583.
    16. 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.
    17. Andreoni, James & Di Girolamo, Amalia & List, John A. & Mackevicius, Claire & Samek, Anya, 2020. "Risk preferences of children and adolescents in relation to gender, cognitive skills, soft skills, and executive functions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 729-742.
    18. Kautz, Tim & Heckman, James J. & Diris, Ron & ter Weel, Bas & Borghans, Lex, 2014. "Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success," IZA Discussion Papers 8696, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Rampino, Tina & P. Taylor, Mark, 2013. "Gender differences in educational aspirations and attitudes," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-15, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    20. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2003. "Gender Differences in Completed Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 559-577, August.
    21. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    22. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Jenna Stearns, 2016. "Family Inequality: Diverging Patterns in Marriage, Cohabitation, and Childbearing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 79-102, Spring.
    23. 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.
    24. Christopher Dougherty, 2005. "Why Are the Returns to Schooling Higher for Women than for Men?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 969-988.
    25. Jie Gong & Yi Lu & Hong Song, 2018. "The Effect of Teacher Gender on Students’ Academic and Noncognitive Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(3), pages 743-778.
    26. Hulten, Charles R. & Ramey, Valerie A. (ed.), 2018. "Education, Skills, and Technical Change," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226567808, March.
    27. Sansone, Dario, 2017. "Why does teacher gender matter?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 9-18.
    28. David Autor & David Figlio & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth & Melanie Wasserman, 2019. "Family Disadvantage and the Gender Gap in Behavioral and Educational Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 338-381, July.
    29. Marianne Bertrand & Emir Kamenica & Jessica Pan, 2015. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 571-614.
    30. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
    31. Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 203-241.
    32. Catherine Porter & Danila Serra, 2020. "Gender Differences in the Choice of Major: The Importance of Female Role Models," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 226-254, July.
    33. Daniela Del Boca & Chiara Monfardini & Cheti Nicoletti, 2017. "Parental and Child Time Investments and the Cognitive Development of Adolescents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 565-608.
    34. Paredes, Valentina, 2014. "A teacher like me or a student like me? Role model versus teacher bias effect," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 38-49.
    35. 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.
    36. Taubman, Paul, 1989. "Role of Parental Income in Educational Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 57-61, May.
    37. Tuomas Pekkarinen, 2008. "Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of Tracking from a Finnish Quasi‐experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 807-825, December.
    38. Janzen, Sarah A. & Magnan, Nicholas & Sharma, Sudhindra & Thompson, William M., 2017. "Aspirations failure and formation in rural Nepal," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 1-25.
    39. Chevalier, Arnaud & Harmon, Colm & O'Sullivan, Vincent & Walker, Ian, 2013. "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on the Schooling of Children," Papers WP468, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    40. Charles R. Hulten & Valerie A. Ramey, 2018. "Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future US GDP Growth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hult-12, March.
    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. Watson, Barry & Kong, Nancy & Phipps, Shelley, 2022. "Dreaming of a Brighter Future? The Impact of Economic Vulnerability on University Aspirations," IZA Discussion Papers 15539, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Parasnis, Jaai & Paterson, Molly & Rendall, Michelle, 2022. "Gender, Income, and Numeracy Test Scores," CEPR Discussion Papers 16895, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Cattan, Sarah & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Tominey, Emma, 2022. "First Generation Elite: The Role of School Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 15560, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Delaney, Judith & Devereux, Paul J., 2021. "Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 14074, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Rodríguez-Planas, Nuria & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Terskaya, Anastasia, 2022. "Gender norms in high school: Impacts on risky behaviors from adolescence to adulthood," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 196(C), pages 429-456.
    3. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Terskaya, Anastasia, 2018. "Independent Thinking and Hard Working, or Caring and Well Behaved? Short- and Long-Term Impacts of Gender Identity Norms," IZA Discussion Papers 11694, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Julie Moschion, 2017. "Gender gaps in early educational achievement," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(4), pages 1093-1134, October.
    5. Andrew Bibler, 2017. "Household Composition and Gender Difference in Parental Time Investments," Working Papers 2017-01, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
    6. Letizia Mencarini & Silvia Pasqua & Agnese Romiti, 2019. "Single-mother families and the gender gap in children’s time investment and non-cognitive skills," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 149-176, March.
    7. 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).
    8. Nguyen, Ha Trong & Brinkman, Sally & Le, Huong Thu & Zubrick, Stephen R. & Mitrou, Francis, 2022. "Gender differences in time allocation contribute to differences in developmental outcomes in children and adolescents," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
    9. Brenøe, Anne Ardila & Lundberg, Shelly, 2018. "Gender gaps in the effects of childhood family environment: Do they persist into adulthood?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 42-62.
    10. Lei, Ziteng & Lundberg, Shelly, 2020. "Vulnerable Boys: Short-term and Long-term Gender Differences in the Impacts of Adolescent Disadvantage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 424-448.
    11. 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.
    12. Kelly Foley, 2019. "The gender gap in university enrolment: Do parents play a role beyond investing in skills?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 52(2), pages 441-489, May.
    13. Andrew J. Bibler, 2020. "Household Composition and Gender Differences in Parental Time Investments," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(4), pages 1415-1435, August.
    14. Foley, Kelly, 2017. "The gender gap in university participation: What role do skills and parents play?," CLEF Working Paper Series 8, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    15. Lippmann, Quentin & Senik, Claudia, 2018. "Math, girls and socialism," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 874-888.
    16. Riphahn & Caroline Schwientek, 2015. "What drives the reversal of the gender education gap? Evidence from Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(53), pages 5748-5775, November.
    17. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 17, pages 1543-1590, Elsevier.
    18. Maria Knoth Humlum & Anne Brink Nandrup & Nina Smith, 2019. "Closing or reproducing the gender gap? Parental transmission, social norms and education choice," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(2), pages 455-500, April.
    19. Chuan, A. & Zhang, W., 2021. "Non-College Occupations, Workplace Routinization, and the Gender Gap in College Enrollment," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2177, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    20. Hanzhe Zhang, 2021. "An Investment-and-Marriage Model with Differential Fecundity: On the College Gender Gap," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 129(5), pages 1464-1486.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • 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

    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:wly:soecon:v:87:y:2020:i:2:p:416-439. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://doi.org/10.1002/(ISSN)2325-8012 .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://doi.org/10.1002/(ISSN)2325-8012 .

    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.