Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School

52 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2007 Last revised: 5 Oct 2007

See all articles by Victor Lavy

Victor Lavy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Analia Schlosser

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2007

Abstract

The consequences of gender social and learning interactions in the classroom are of interest to parents, policy makers, and researchers. However, little is known about gender peer effects in schools and their operational channels. In this paper, we estimate the effects of classroom gender composition on scholastic achievements of boys and girls in Israeli primary, middle, and high schools and identify the mechanisms through which these peer effects are enacted. In particular, we examine whether gender peer effects work through changes in classroom learning and social environment, teaching methods and pedagogy, and teacher burnout and work satisfaction. In assessing these mechanisms, we distinguish between the effects generated by changes in the classroom gender composition and those generated by changes in the behavior of students. To control for potentially confounding unobserved characteristics of schools and students that might be correlated with peer gender composition, we rely on idiosyncratic variations in gender composition across adjacent cohorts within the same schools. Our results suggest that an increase in the proportion of girls leads to a significant improvement in students' cognitive outcomes. The estimated effects are of similar magnitude for boys and girls. As important mechanisms, we find that a higher proportion of female peers lowers the level of classroom disruption and violence, improves inter-student and student-teacher relationships as well as students' overall satisfaction in school, and lessens teachers' fatigue. We find, however, no effect on individual behavior of boys or girls, which suggests that the positive peer effects of girls on classroom environment are due mostly to compositional change, namely due to having more girls in the classroom and not due to improved behavior of peers.

Suggested Citation

Lavy, Victor and Schlosser, Analia, Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School (August 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13292. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1005605

Victor Lavy (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3245 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Analia Schlosser

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3132 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://pluto.huji.ac.il/~ani

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