A NEW INSIGHT INTO THE GENDER GAP IN MATH

Authors


Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, 108 Yangjae Road, Seocho-gu, Seoul 137-747, South Korea; Email: ksohn@kiep.go.kr. An earlier draft of this paper was part of my doctoral thesis. I am grateful to my thesis committee members Illoong Kwon, Michael Sattinger, Adrian Masters and Baris Yoruk. I also appreciate helpful comments provided by participants at the annual meeting of the European Association of Labour Economists in 2008 as well as two anonymous referees and Editor Gabriel Talmain.

ABSTRACT

In the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Cohort, I find that the gender gap is not uniform across the distribution of math skills and that these quantile-specific gaps vary with age. Specifically, girls at the top of the distribution initially fall behind boys but manage to catch up later. At the same time, girls in the lower parts of the distribution lose ground. In fifth grade, a gender gap of 0.2 standard deviation, about 2.5 months of schooling, is observed across the entire distribution. Overall, these patterns indicate the possibility that low performing girls become worse and vice versa. These results demonstrate important dynamics of the gap that are relevant for policy, but that the mean gap fails to show.

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