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Gender Gap in Dropping out of High School: Evidence from the Canadian NLSCY Youth

  • Pierre Lefebvre
  • Philip Merrigan

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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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 1044.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:1044
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  1. Brian Jacob & Jens Ludwig, 2008. "Improving Educational Outcomes for Poor Children," NBER Working Papers 14550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nicole M. Fortin, 2008. "The Gender Wage Gap among Young Adults in the United States: The Importance of Money versus People," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  3. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
  4. Daniel Parent, 2006. "Work while in high school in Canada: its labour market and educational attainment effects," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1125-1150, November.
  5. Ben Jann, 2008. "The Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition for linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(4), pages 453-479, December.
  6. Lorraine Dearden & Carl Emmerson & Christine Frayne & Costas Meghir & Costas Meghir, 2006. "Education Subsidies and School Drop-Out Rates," CEE Discussion Papers 0053, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  7. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2009. "Are High Quality Schools Enough to Close the Achievement Gap? Evidence from a Social Experiment in Harlem," NBER Working Papers 15473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2875, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Thomas DeLeire & Margo Coleman, 2000. "An Economic Model of Locus of Control and the Human Capital Investment Decision," Working Papers 0019, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  10. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
  11. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
  12. James J. Heckman & Paul LaFontaine, 2006. "Bias Corrected Estimates of GED Returns," NBER Working Papers 12018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Ben Jann, 2006. "FAIRLIE: Stata module to generate nonlinear decomposition of binary outcome differentials," Statistical Software Components S456727, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 26 May 2008.
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