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Why Are Single-Sex Schools Successful?

Listed author(s):
  • Dustmann, Christian
  • Ku, Hyejin
  • Kwak, Do Won

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.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 12101.

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Date of creation: Jun 2017
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12101
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  15. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Working Papers 745, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  16. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "An Evaluation of Instrumental Variable Strategies for Estimating the Effects of Catholic Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 791-821.
  17. Damon Clark & Emilia Del Bono, 2016. "The Long-Run Effects of Attending an Elite School: Evidence from the United Kingdom," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 150-176, January.
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  20. Choi, Jaesung & Park, Hyunjoon & Behrman, Jere R., 2015. "Separating boys and girls and increasing weight? Assessing the impacts of single-sex schools through random assignment in Seoul," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-11.
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