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Students' Selection and Heterogeneous Effects of Classroom Gender Composition: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Switzerland

Author

Listed:
  • Damiano Pregaldini

    (University of Zurich)

  • Uschi Backes-Gellner

    (University of Zurich)

  • Gerald Eisenkopf

    (University of Vechta)

Abstract

This paper investigates how gender composition of classes impacts achievement of students who self-selected into different specialization tracks (STEM vs. Languages) according to their educational preferences. Based on administrative records from one of the largest high schools in the canton of Zurich (Switzerland), we are able to identify the causal effect of the gender composition of classes on student achievement by exploiting random assignment of students to classes. Compared to the previous literature, which mainly focused on average effects across all students, we find highly heterogeneous effects across students who self-selected into different specialization tracks. While the effect of a higher proportion of girls in the classroom is positive for girls and boys with an educational preference for languages, the effect is negative for girls in the STEM track. Our findings have important implications for the optimal organization of classes in schools and for the explanation of career trajectories after school. For instance, concentrating girls in few classes has a positive effect only on girls who favor languages over STEM.

Suggested Citation

  • Damiano Pregaldini & Uschi Backes-Gellner & Gerald Eisenkopf, 2018. "Students' Selection and Heterogeneous Effects of Classroom Gender Composition: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Switzerland," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0152, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0152
    as

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    File URL: http://repec.business.uzh.ch/RePEc/iso/leadinghouse/0152_lhwpaper.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jackson, C. Kirabo, 2012. "Single-sex schools, student achievement, and course selection: Evidence from rule-based student assignments in Trinidad and Tobago," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 173-187.
    2. Diane Whitmore, 2005. "Resource and Peer Impacts on Girls' Academic Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 199-203, May.
    3. Eisenkopf, Gerald & Hessami, Zohal & Fischbacher, Urs & Ursprung, Heinrich W., 2015. "Academic performance and single-sex schooling: Evidence from a natural experiment in Switzerland," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 123-143.
    4. Thomas Buser & Noemi Peter & Stefan C. Wolter, 2017. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Study Choices in High School: Evidence from Switzerland," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 125-130, May.
    5. Edward P. Lazear & Ulrike Malmendier & Roberto A. Weber, 2012. "Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 136-163, January.
    6. Ulf Zölitz & Jan Feld, 2017. "The effect of peer gender on major choice," ECON - Working Papers 270, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Aug 2018.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-255, July.
    8. Thomas Buser & Muriel Niederle & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2014. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Career Choices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1409-1447.
    9. 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 210-240, April.
    10. Edward P. Lazear, 2001. "Educational Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 777-803.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    classroom gender composition; heterogenous effects; sutdents' selection;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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