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Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math

Author

Listed:
  • Gaia Dossi
  • David N. Figlio
  • Paola Giuliano
  • Paola Sapienza

Abstract

We study the correlation between parental gender attitudes and the performance in mathematics of girls using two different approaches and data. First, we identify families with a preference for boys by using fertility stopping rules in a population of households whose children attend public schools in Florida. Girls growing up in a boy-biased family score 3 percentage points lower on math tests when compared to girls raised in other families. Second, we find similar strong effects when we study the correlations between girls’ performance in mathematics and maternal gender role attitudes, using evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We conclude that socialization at home can explain a non-trivial part of the observed gender disparities in mathematics performance and document that maternal gender attitudes correlate with those of their children, supporting the hypothesis that preferences transmitted through the family impact children behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Gaia Dossi & David N. Figlio & Paola Giuliano & Paola Sapienza, 2019. "Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math," NBER Working Papers 25535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25535
    Note: CH ED LS POL
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Figlio & Jonathan Guryan & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth, 2014. "The Effects of Poor Neonatal Health on Children's Cognitive Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(12), pages 3921-3955, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Judith M. Delaney & Paul J. Devereux, 2019. "It’s not just for boys! Understanding Gender Differences in STEM," Working Papers 201905, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    2. repec:ces:ifodre:v:27:y:2019:i:02:p:12-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Delaney, Judith & Devereux, Paul J., 2019. "Understanding Gender Differences in STEM: Evidence from College Applications," CEPR Discussion Papers 13558, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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