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Do Single-Sex Schools Enhance Students’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Outcomes?

  • Hyunjoon Park


    (Department of Sociology and Education, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Jere R. Behrman


    (Department of Economics and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Jaesung Choi


    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Despite women’s significant improvement in educational attainment, underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) college majors persists in most countries. We address whether one particular institution – single-sex schools – may enhance female – or male – students’ STEM careers. Exploiting the unique setting in Korea where assignment to all-girls, all-boys or coeducational high schools is random, we move beyond associations to assess causal effects of single-sex schools. We use administrative data on national college entrance mathematics examination scores and a longitudinal survey of high school seniors that provide various STEM outcomes (mathematics and science interest and self-efficacy, expectations of a four-year college attendance and a STEM college major during the high school senior year, and actual attendance at a four-year college and choice of a STEM major two years after high school). We find significantly positive effects of all-boys schools consistently across different STEM outcomes, whereas the positive effect of all-girls schools is only found for mathematics scores.

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Paper provided by Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania in its series PIER Working Paper Archive with number 12-038.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 18 Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:12-038
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  1. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," Economics Discussion Papers 672, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  2. Jackson, C. Kirabo, 2012. "Single-sex schools, student achievement, and course selection: Evidence from rule-based student assignments in Trinidad and Tobago," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 173-187.
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