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Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence

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  • Devereux, Paul J.
  • Delaney, Judith

Abstract

There are two well-established gender gaps in education. First, females tend to have higher educational attainment and achievement than males and this is particularly the case for children from less advantaged backgrounds. Second, there are large differences in the fields of specialization chosen by males and females in college and even prior to college and females disproportionately enter less highly paid fields. This review article begins with these stylized facts and then moves on to describe evidence for the role of various factors in affecting educational achievement by gender. Gender differences in non-cognitive traits, behaviour, and interests have been shown to relate to differences in educational outcomes; however, this evidence cannot generally be given a causal interpretation. In contrast, the literature has been creative in estimating causal impacts of a wide range of factors using experimental and quasi-experimental variation. While the approaches are compelling, the findings vary widely across studies and are often contradictory. This may partly reflect methodological differences across studies but also may result from substantial true heterogeneity across educational systems and time periods. The review concludes by evaluating what factors are most responsible for the two central gender gaps, whether there is a role for policy to reduce these gender differences, and what the findings imply about the capacity for policy to tackle these gaps.

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  • Devereux, Paul J. & Delaney, Judith, 2021. "Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 15753, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:15753
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    6. Lenka Fiala & John Eric Humphries & Juanna Schrøter Joensen & Uditi Karna & John A. List & Gregory F. Veramendi, 2022. "How Early Adolescent Skills and Preferences Shape Economics Education Choices," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 112, pages 609-613, May.
    7. Graziella Bertocchi & Luca Bonacini & Marina Murat, 2021. "Adams and Eves: The Gender Gap in Economics Majors," Department of Economics 0196, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    8. Hakimov, Rustamdjan & Schmacker, Renke & Terrier, Camille, 2022. "Confidence and college applications: Evidence from a randomized intervention," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Behavior SP II 2022-209, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
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    1. McNally, Sandra, 2020. "Gender Differences in Tertiary Education: What Explains STEM Participation?," IZA Policy Papers 165, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Briole, Simon, 2021. "Are girls always good for boys? Short and long term effects of school peers’ gender," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education; Gender; Schools; Gender gaps; Gender and educational achievement; Gender and stem;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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