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Math, Girls and Socialism

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  • Quentin Lippmann

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

  • Claudia Senik

    () (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

Abstract

This paper argues that the socialist episode in East Germany, which constituted a radical experiment in gender equality in the labor market and other instances, has left persistent tracks on gender norms. We focus on one of the most resilient and pervasive gender gaps in modern societies: mathematics. Using the German division as a natural experiment, we show that the underperformance of girls in math is sharply reduced in the regions of the former GDR, in contrast with those of the former FRG. We show that this East-West difference is due to girls' attitudes, confidence and competitiveness in math, and not to other confounding factors, such as the difference in economic conditions or teaching styles across the former political border. We also provide illustrative evidence that the gender gap in math is smaller in European countries that used to be part of the Soviet bloc, as opposed to the rest of Europe. The lesson is twofold: (1) a large part of the pervasive gender gap in math is due to social stereotypes; (2) institutions can durably modify these stereotypes.

Suggested Citation

  • Quentin Lippmann & Claudia Senik, 2018. "Math, Girls and Socialism," PSE Working Papers halshs-01387272, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-01387272
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01387272v2
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    Cited by:

    1. Nikolova, Milena & Popova, Olga & Otrachshenko, Vladimir, 2019. "Stalin and the Origins of Mistrust," IZA Discussion Papers 12326, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Quentin Lippmann & Claudia Senik, 2019. "The Impact of the Socialist Episode on Gender Norms in Germany," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 17(03), pages 30-35, October.
    3. Jaanika Meriküll & Maryna Tverdostup, 2020. "The Gap That Survived The Transition: The Gender Wage Gap Over Three Decades In Estonia," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 127, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    4. Naomi Friedman-Sokuler & Claudia Senik, 2020. "From Pink-Collar to Lab Coat. Cultural Persistence and Diffusion of Socialist Gender Norms," PSE Working Papers halshs-02872229, HAL.
    5. Artjoms Ivlevs & Milena Nikolova & Olga Popova, 2019. "Former Communist party membership and present-day entrepreneurship in Central and Eastern Europe," Working Papers 384, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).
    6. Anne (A.C.) Gielen & Esmee Zwiers, 2018. "Biology and the gender gap in educational performance - The role of prenatal testosterone in test scores," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-086/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Chandan Jain, 2019. "Analysing Changes in Gender Difference in Learning in Rural India over Time," Journal of Quantitative Economics, Springer;The Indian Econometric Society (TIES), vol. 17(4), pages 913-935, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender Gap in Math; Institutions; German Division; Gender Sterotypes;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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