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Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement

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  • Nicole M. Fortin
  • Philip Oreopoulos
  • Shelley Phipps

Abstract

Using three decades of data from the "Monitoring the Future" cross-sectional surveys, this paper shows that, from the 1980s to the 2000s, the mode of girls' high school GPA distribution has shifted from "B" to "A", essentially "leaving boys behind" as the mode of boys' GPA distribution stayed at "B". In a reweighted Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition of achievement at each GPA level, we find that gender differences in post-secondary expectations, controlling for school ability, and as early as 8th grade are the most important factor accounting for this trend. Increases in the growing proportion of girls who aim for a post-graduate degree are sufficient to account for the increase over time in the proportion of girls earning "A's". The larger relative share of boys obtaining "C" and C+" can be accounted for by a higher frequency of school misbehavior and a higher proportion of boys aiming for a two-year college degree.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicole M. Fortin & Philip Oreopoulos & Shelley Phipps, 2013. "Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 19331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19331
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jaison R. Abel & Richard Deitz, 2017. "Underemployment in the Early Careers of College Graduates Following the Great Recession," NBER Chapters,in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future US GDP Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Anne GOUJON & Samir K. C. & Markus SPERINGER & Bilal BARAKAT & Michaela POTANCOKOVÀ, 2016. "A Harmonized Dataset on Global Educational Attainment between 1970 and 2060 - An Analytical Window into Recent Trends and Future Prospects in Human Capital Development," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 315-363, September.
    3. repec:spr:izalbr:v:7:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s40172-018-0062-y is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Esteban Aucejo & Jonathan James, 2017. "Catching Up to Girls: Understanding the Gender Imbalance in Educational Attainment Within Race," Working Papers 1701, California Polytechnic State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Francesconi, Marco & Parey, Matthias, 2018. "Early Gender Gaps Among University Graduates," CEPR Discussion Papers 12754, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Julie Moschion, 2017. "Gender gaps in early educational achievement," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(4), pages 1093-1134, October.
    7. Golsteyn, Bart H.H. & Schils, Trudie, 2014. "Gender gaps in primary school achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 176-187.
    8. Golsteyn, Bart H.H. & Schils, Trudie, 2014. "Gender Gaps in Primary School Achievement: A Decomposition into Endowments and Returns to IQ and Non-cognitive Factors," IZA Discussion Papers 8201, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Maria Cattaneo & Stefan Wolter, 2015. "Better migrants, better PISA results: Findings from a natural experiment," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-19, December.
    10. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:86-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Andrew Bibler, 2017. "Household Composition and Gender Difference in Parental Time Investments," Working Papers 2017-01, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
    12. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:42-50 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Elena Claudia Meroni & Giovanni Abbiati, 2014. "Gender differences in exposure to more instruction time. Evidence from Italy," Working Papers 064, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    14. Miguel Ángel Ropero García & Oscar David Marcenaro Gutierrez & Luis Alejandro Lopez-Agudo, 2016. "Gender roles as indicator of academic failure," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 11,in: José Manuel Cordero Ferrera & Rosa Simancas Rodríguez (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 11, edition 1, volume 11, chapter 11, pages 227-248 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    15. Keita, Moussa, 2014. "Contribution des inobservables aux disparités de genre dans la scolarisation et le travail des enfants au Mali
      [Contribution of unobservables to gender disparities in schooling and child labor in M
      ," MPRA Paper 57532, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Jalava, Nina & Joensen, Juanna Schrøter & Pellas, Elin, 2015. "Grades and rank: Impacts of non-financial incentives on test performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 161-196.
    17. Brenøe, Anne Ardila & Lundberg, Shelly, 2018. "Gender gaps in the effects of childhood family environment: Do they persist into adulthood?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 42-62.
    18. Nayoung Rim, 2017. "The Effect of Title IX on Gender Disparity in Graduate Education," Departmental Working Papers 58, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    19. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna & Terskaya, Anastasia, 2018. "Independent Thinking and Hard Working, or Caring and Well Behaved? Short- and Long-Term Impacts of Gender Identity Norms," IZA Discussion Papers 11694, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    20. Eiji Yamamura & Yoshiro Tsutsui, 2016. "Comparing the role of height between men and women in the marriage market," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 16-20, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    21. Huong Thu Le & Ha Trong Nguyen, 2018. "The evolution of the gender test score gap through seventh grade: new insights from Australia using unconditional quantile regression and decomposition," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, December.
    22. Grenestam, Erik & Nordin, Martin, 2017. "High-Speed Broadband and Academic Achievement in Teenagers: Evidence from Sweden," Working Papers 2017:17, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 23 Apr 2018.
    23. M. Kathleen Thomas & Priyanka Singh & Kristin Klopfenstein, 2015. "Arts education and the high school dropout problem," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 39(4), pages 327-339, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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