IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Gender Gaps in Education


  • Bertocchi, Graziella
  • Bozzano, Monica


This chapter reviews the growing body of research in economics which concentrates on the education gender gap and its evolution, over time and across countries. The survey first focuses on gender differentials in the historical period that roughly goes from 1850 to the 1940s and documents the deep determinants of the early phase of female education expansion, including pre-industrial conditions, religion, and family and kinship patterns. Next, the survey describes the stylized facts of contemporaneous gender gaps in education, from the 1950s to the present day, accounting for several alternative measures of attainment and achievement and for geographic and temporal differentiations. The determinants of the gaps are then summarized, while keeping a strong emphasis on an historical perspective and disentangling factors related to the labor market, family formation, psychological elements, and societal cultural norms. A discussion follows of the implications of the education gender gap for multiple realms, from economic growth to family life, taking into account the potential for reverse causation. Special attention is devoted to the persistency of gender gaps in the STEM and economics fields.

Suggested Citation

  • Bertocchi, Graziella & Bozzano, Monica, 2019. "Gender Gaps in Education," GLO Discussion Paper Series 415, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:415

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
    2. Sule Alan & Seda Ertac & Ipek Mumcu, 2018. "Gender Stereotypes in the Classroom and Effects on Achievement," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 876-890, December.
    3. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 783-808, September.
    4. Brian A'Hearn & Alexia Delfino & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2022. "Rethinking age heaping: a cautionary tale from nineteenth‐century Italy," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(1), pages 111-137, February.
    5. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
    6. Brian A'Hearn & Alexia Delfino, 2016. "Rethinking Age-heaping, a Cautionary Tale From Nineteenth Century Italy," Economics Series Working Papers Paper 148, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. E. G. West, 1978. "Literacy and the Industrial Revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 31(3), pages 369-383, August.
    8. Claude Diebolt & Michael Haupert (ed.), 2016. "Handbook of Cliometrics," Springer Books, Springer, edition 1, number 978-3-642-40406-1, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Delaney, Judith & Devereux, Paul J., 2021. "Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 15753, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Harka, Elona & Nunziata, Luca & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2021. "The Alabaster Ceiling: The Gender Legacy of the Papal States," IZA Discussion Papers 14719, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Evans David K. & Akmal Maryam & Jakiela Pamela, 2021. "Gender gaps in education: The long view," IZA Journal of Development and Migration, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 12(1), pages 1-27, January.
    4. Ana María Iregui-Bohórquez & Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra & María Teresa Ramírez-Giraldo & Ana María Tribín-Uribe, 2020. "The path to gender equality in Colombia: Are we there yet?," Borradores de Economia 1131, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    5. Chiara Cavaglia & Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally & Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela, 2020. "Gender, achievement, and subject choice in English education," CVER Research Papers 032, Centre for Vocational Education Research.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Graziella Bertocchi & Monica Bozzano, 2019. "Gender gaps in education," Department of Economics 0158, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    2. Giovanni Campisi & Silvia Muzzioli, 2019. "Construction and properties of volatility indices for Austria, Finland and Spain," Department of Economics 0156, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    3. A'Hearn, Brian & Delfino, Alexia & Nuvolari, Alessandro, 2019. "Cognition, Culture, and State Capacity: Age-Heaping in XIX Century Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 14261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Dana Glei & Andres Barajas Paz & Josè Manuel Aburto & Magali Barbieri, 2021. "Mexican mortality 1990‒2016: Comparison of unadjusted and adjusted estimates," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 44(30), pages 719-758.
    5. Matthias Blum & Karl‐Peter Krauss & Dmytro Myeshkov, 2022. "Human capital transfer of German‐speaking migrants in eastern Europe, 1780s–1820s," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(3), pages 703-738, August.
    6. Beltrán Tapia, Francisco J. & Díez-Minguela, Alfonso & Martinez-Galarraga, Julio & Tirado-Fabregat, Daniel A., 2022. "Two Stories, One Fate: Age-Heaping And Literacy In Spain, 1877-1930," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(3), pages 405-438, December.
    7. Èric Gómez-i-Aznar, 2019. "Human capital at the beginnings of the 18th century Catalonia: age-heaping and numeracy in a changing economy," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1904, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.
    8. Zhou, Qingtian, 2017. "Food Prices and Cognitive Development in the United States: Evidence from the 1850-1930 Data," Master's Theses and Plan B Papers 261505, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    9. Francisco J. Beltrán Tapia & Alfonso Díez-Minguela & Julio Martinez-Galarraga & Daniel A. Tirado-Fabregat, 2018. "Two stories, one fate: Age-heaping and literacy in Spain, 1877-1930," Working Papers 0139, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    10. Rania Gihleb & Osnat Lifshitz, 2022. "Dynamic Effects of Educational Assortative Mating on Labor Supply," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 46, pages 302-327, October.
    11. Steven Ruggles, 2015. "Patriarchy, Power, and Pay: The Transformation of American Families, 1800–2015," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(6), pages 1797-1823, December.
    12. Michela Carlana, 2019. "Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers’ Gender Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(3), pages 1163-1224.
    13. Marianne Bertrand & Emir Kamenica & Jessica Pan, 2015. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 571-614.
    14. Pekkarinen, Tuomas, 2012. "Gender Differences in Education," IZA Discussion Papers 6390, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Brian A'Hearn & Alexia Delfino & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2022. "Rethinking age heaping: a cautionary tale from nineteenth‐century Italy," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(1), pages 111-137, February.
    16. Fernández, Raquel & Wong, Joyce Cheng, 2011. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work," IZA Discussion Papers 6046, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Hanzhe Zhang, 2021. "An Investment-and-Marriage Model with Differential Fecundity: On the College Gender Gap," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 129(5), pages 1464-1486.
    18. Gershoni, Naomi & Low, Corinne, 2021. "The power of time: The impact of free IVF on Women’s human capital investments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).
    19. Stimpfle, Alexander & Stadelmann, David, 2016. "Marriage Age Affects Educational Gender Inequality: International Evidence," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145492, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    20. Martín A Rossi & Christian A Ruzzier, 2018. "Career Choices and the Evolution of the College Gender Gap," The World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 32(2), pages 307-333.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:415. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.