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Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math
We study the effect of preferences for boys on the performance in mathematics of girls, using evidence from two different data sources. In our first set of results, we identify families with a preference for boys by using fertility stopping rules in a large population of households whose children attend public schools in Florida. Girls growing up in a boy-biased family score on average 3 percentage points lower on math exams when compared to girls raised in other types of families. In our second set of results 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.
This paper has been published in The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization and can be found here, March 2021.
Keywords: Gender Bias, Education, Cultural Transmission
Citation: Gaia Dossi, David Figlio, Paola Giuliano, Paola Sapienza (2019). Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math. CALDER Working Paper No. 216-0219-1
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