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Labor Market Returns, Marriage Opportunities, or the Education System? Explaining Gender Differences in Numeracy in Indonesia

  • Daniel Suryadarma

This paper measures the evolution of the gender differences in numeracy among school age children using a longitudinal dataset from Indonesia. A unique feature of the dataset is that it uses an identical test for two survey rounds, which implies that any changes in the gender gap are caused by actual changes in numeracy. To my knowledge, this is the first study that is able to distinguish actual changes in numeracy from changes in the difficulty of the tests. I find that girls outperform boys by 0.09 standard deviations when the sample was around 11 years old. Seven years later, the gap has increased to 0.19 standard deviations. This gap is equivalent to around 18 months of schooling. I find evidence for two explanations for the widening gap. The first is that households invest more resources in girls relative to boys. This behavior appears to be rational, driven by the higher labor market returns to numeracy for girls than for boys. In contrast, I find no marriage market returns to numeracy for either gender. The second explanation is that the Indonesian education system appears to play some role in promoting the gender gap. A particular source of this appears to be the teachers, as the gender gap in numeracy only occurs in schools where more than half of the teachers are female.

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File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP644.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 644.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:644
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  1. Bedard, Kelly & Cho, Insook, 2010. "Early gender test score gaps across OECD countries," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 348-363, June.
  2. 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 210-40, April.
  3. Brown, Charles & Corcoran, Mary, 1997. "Sex-Based Differences in School Content and the Male-Female Wage Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 431-65, July.
  4. Park, Cheolsung, 2003. "Interhousehold Transfers between Relatives in Indonesia: Determinants and Motives," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 929-44, July.
  5. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally, 2006. "Gender and Student Achievement in English Schools," CEE Discussion Papers 0058, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. Thomas S. Dee, 2007. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
  7. Alderman, Harold & Behrman, Jere R. & Kohler, Hans-Peter & Maluccio, John A. & Cotts Watkins, Susan, 2000. "Attrition in longitudinal household survey data - some tests for three developing-country samples," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2447, The World Bank.
  8. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
  9. Goldin, Claudia & Kuziemko, Ilyana & Katz, Lawrence, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Scholarly Articles 2962611, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Robert Sparrow, 2007. "Protecting Education for the Poor in Times of Crisis: An Evaluation of a Scholarship Programme in Indonesia," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 69(1), pages 99-122, 02.
  11. Daniel Suryadarma & Asep Suryahadi & Sudarno Sumarto & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Improving Student Performance in Public Primary Schools in Developing Countries: Evidence from Indonesia," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 401-429.
  12. Harold Alderman & Jere R. Behrman & David R. Ross & Richard Sabot, 1996. "Decomposing the Gender Gap in Cognitive Skills in a Poor Rural Economy," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 229-254.
  13. Kevane, Michael & Levine, David I., 2000. "The Changing Status of Daughters in Indonesia," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt09m817c0, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
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