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Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of the Tracking Age from a Finnish Quasi-Experiment

  • Pekkarinen, Tuomas

    ()

    (Government Institute for Economic Research, Helsinki)

This paper studies the relationship between the timing of tracking of pupils into vocational and academic secondary education and gender differences in educational attainment and income. We argue that in a system that streams students into vocational and academic tracks relatively late (age 15-16), girls are more likely to choose the academic track than boys because of gender differences in the timing of puberty. We exploit the Finnish comprehensive school reform of the 1970's to analyze this hypothesis. This reform postponed the tracking of students from the age of 10-11 to 15-16 and was adopted gradually by municipalities so that we can observe members of the same cohorts in both systems. We find that the postponement of the tracking age increased gender differences in the probability of choosing the academic secondary education and in the probability of continuing into academic tertiary education. The reform had particularily negative effects on boys from non-academic family backgrounds. Finally, the reform decreased the gender wage gap in adult income by four percentage points.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1897.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1897
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  1. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2003. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-036, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Parish, W.L. & Willis, R.J., 1992. "Daughters, Education, and Family Budgets: Taiwan Experiences," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-8, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  3. Wim P. M. Vijverberg, 1993. "Educational Investments and Returns for Women and Men in Côte d'Ivoire," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(4), pages 933-974.
  4. Joseph G. Altonji, 1991. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 3714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," CESifo Working Paper Series 1415, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2003. "Gender Differences in Completed Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(3), pages 559-577, August.
  7. Galeotti, Andrea & Mueller, Gerrit, 2005. "Friendship Relations in the School Class and Adult Economic Attainment," IZA Discussion Papers 1682, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," Working Papers in Economics 08/03, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  9. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Simon Burgess & Brendon McConnell & Carol Propper & Deborah Wilson, 2003. "Girls Rock, Boys Roll: An Analysis of the Age 14-16 Gender Gap in English Schools," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/084, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  11. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
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  15. Christian Dustmann, 2004. "Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(2), pages 209-230, April.
  16. repec:dgr:uvatin:20050032 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  18. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? International Evidence From Changes in School-Leaving Laws," NBER Working Papers 10155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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