Gender Gap in Dropping out of High School: Evidence from the Canadian NLSCY Youth
This paper exploits the panel features of the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) and the large diversity of measures collected on the children and their families over 7 cycles (1994-1995 to 2006-2007) to explain high school graduation (dropout rates) of Canadian youth aged 18 to 23 observed in the most recent wave of the survey. We focus on the gap between females and males which in some provinces is high, particularly in Québec. The econometric approach uses a non-linear Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition technique to identify and quantify the separate contributions of group differences in measurable characteristics (youth attributes and family endowments) to the gender gap in high school graduation rates. We find that the traditional barriers to high school graduation, linked to poverty, are very detrimental for males in Québec. However, we also find that the male-female gap across Canada is very partially explained by differences in endowments such as reading or maths skills in school. Finally, as in other recent studies, our results show that parental expectations about educational attainment are predictors of high school graduation. Public policy approaches for the reduction of the male-female gap are proposed. More radical measures and some experimental approaches (pilot projects) should be adopted in Québec to decrease rapidly the dropout rates and increase high school graduation rates by the age of 18.
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