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Gender, Single-Sex Schooling and Maths Achievement

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  • Doris, Aedin

    (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

  • O'Neill, Donal

    (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

  • Sweetman, Olive

    (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

Abstract

This paper examines the determinants of mathematical achievement among primary school children. Previous studies have found that boys perform better in maths than girls, particularly at the upper end of the distribution. It has been suggested in the literature that differences in the size of the maths gap across countries may be explained by differences in the prevalence of single-sex schooling. The Irish education system is interesting both for the fact that a sizeable proportion of children attend single-sex schools, and because these single-sex schools are part of the general educational system, rather than serving a particular socio-economic group. We exploit this fact to test whether the gender composition of schools affects the maths differential at the top of the distribution. In keeping with research on other countries, we find a significant maths gap in favour of boys, but contrary to suggestions in the literature, our results provide no evidence that single-sex schooling reduces the gap. If anything, the gender differential is larger for children educated in single-sex schools than in co-educational schools. These findings are not affected by the inclusion of a proxy for early childhood ability or by the use of instrumental variables to control for potentially endogenous school choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Doris, Aedin & O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2012. "Gender, Single-Sex Schooling and Maths Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 6917, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6917
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    Cited by:

    1. Delaney, Judith M. & Devereux, Paul J., 2019. "It's Not Just for Boys! Understanding Gender Differences in STEM," IZA Discussion Papers 12176, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. David Madden, 2018. "Bridging the gaps: inequalities in children’s educational outcomes in Ireland," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(1), pages 103-122, March.
    3. Shulamit Kahn & Donna Ginther, 2017. "Women and STEM," NBER Working Papers 23525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Alison L. Booth & Lina Cardona-Sosa & Patrick Nolen, 2013. "Do Single-Sex Classes Affect Achievement? A Study in a Coeducational University," Borradores de Economia 787, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    5. Bertoni, Marco & Brunello, Giorgio & Cappellari, Lorenzo, 2017. "Parents, Siblings and Schoolmates: The Effects of Family-School Interactions on Educational Achievement and Long-Term Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 11200, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Arceo-Gomez, Eva O. & Campos-Vazquez, Raymundo M., 2022. "Gender Bias in Evaluation Processes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
    7. Paredes, Valentina, 2014. "A teacher like me or a student like me? Role model versus teacher bias effect," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 38-49.
    8. Daniel Borbely & Jonathan Norris & Agnese Romiti, 2023. "Peer Gender and Schooling: Evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 207-249.
    9. Ozkan Eren, 2017. "Differential Peer Effects, Student Achievement, and Student Absenteeism: Evidence From a Large-Scale Randomized Experiment," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 745-773, April.
    10. Kamal, Zahra, 2021. "Gender separation and academic achievement in higher education: Evidence from a natural experiment in Iran," BERG Working Paper Series 171, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    11. Melser, Daniel & Moallemi, Morteza & Kim, Jun Sung, 2021. "Preferences for single-sex schools: Evidence from the housing market," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 710-726.
    12. Choi, Jaesung & Park, Hyunjoon & Behrman, Jere R., 2015. "Separating boys and girls and increasing weight? Assessing the impacts of single-sex schools through random assignment in Seoul," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-11.
    13. Park, Hyunjoon & Behrman, Jere R. & Choi, Jaesung, 2018. "Do single-sex schools enhance students’ STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 35-47.
    14. Delaney, Judith M. & Devereux, Paul J., 2019. "Understanding gender differences in STEM: Evidence from college applications✰," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 219-238.
    15. Devereux, Paul J. & Delaney, Judith, 2019. "Understanding Gender Differences in STEM: Evidence from College Applications," CEPR Discussion Papers 13558, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    single-sex schooling; gender maths gap;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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