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Born in the family: preferences for boys and the gender gap in math

Dossi, Gaia ORCID: 0000-0001-8589-7563, Figlio, David, Giuliano, Paola and Sapienza, Paola (2021) Born in the family: preferences for boys and the gender gap in math. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 183. 175 - 188. ISSN 0167-2681

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.12.012


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 tests when compared to girls raised in other types of families. In our second set of results, we find similar 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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
JEL classification: A - General Economics and Teaching > A1 - General Economics > A13 - Relation of Economics to Social Values
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I20 - General
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J16 - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 10:12
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 02:15

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