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Father Absence and the Educational Gender Gap

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  • Lundberg, Shelly

    () (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Abstract

The educational attainment of young women now exceeds that of young men in most of the developed world, and women account for about 60% of new four-year college graduates in the United States. Several studies have suggested that the increase in single-parent households may be contributing to the growing gender gap in education, as boys are more vulnerable to the negative effects of father absence and economic disadvantage than girls. Using data on recent cohorts of young men and women from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), I find evidence consistent with other studies that boys are relatively more likely to experience problems in school, including school suspensions, when their father is absent, but also that girls are relatively more likely to experience depression in adolescence, particularly in step-father families. By the time Add Health subjects are young adults, there is no evidence that father absence early in life is more strongly associated with lower rates of college graduation for men, compared to women, in either cross-sectional or family fixed-effect models.

Suggested Citation

  • Lundberg, Shelly, 2017. "Father Absence and the Educational Gender Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 10814, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10814
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 203-241.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan, 2013. "The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-64, January.
    3. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    4. Christopher Dougherty, 2005. "Why Are the Returns to Schooling Higher for Women than for Men?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 969-988.
    5. David H. Autor & David N. Figlio & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth & Melanie Wasserman, 2016. "Family Disadvantage and the Gender Gap in Behavioral and Educational Outcomes," CESifo Working Paper Series 5925, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Thomas S. Dee, 2007. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
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    Cited by:

    1. Roed, Marianne & Schone, Pal & Umblijs, Janis, 2018. "Local Labour Market Conditions on Immigrants' Arrival and Children's School Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 11526, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    father absence; family structure; gender; college graduation; education; school quality;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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