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

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  • Daniel Suryadarma

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Suryadarma, 2010. "Labor Market Returns, Marriage Opportunities, or the Education System? Explaining Gender Differences in Numeracy in Indonesia," CEPR Discussion Papers 644, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:644
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP644.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sim, Armand & Suryadarma, Daniel & Suryahadi, Asep, 2017. "The Consequences of Child Market Work on the Growth of Human Capital," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 144-155.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    numeracy; gender gap; education; Indonesia;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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