Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of Tracking from a Finnish Quasi-Experiment

19 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2008

See all articles by Tuomas Pekkarinen

Tuomas Pekkarinen

Aalto University; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); VATT Institute for Economic Research

Abstract

In this paper we study the relationship between the timing of tracking of pupils into vocational and academic secondary education and gender differences in educational attainment and income. It is argued that in a comprehensive system, where students are tracked into vocational and academic schools relatively late (age 1516), girls are more likely to choose the academic track than boys. We exploit the Finnish comprehensive school reform of the 1970s to analyse this hypothesis. This changed the Finnish school system from a selective to a comprehensive structure and postponed tracking from the age of 1011 to 1516. Since the reform was not implemented at the same time throughout the country, we can observe members of the same cohorts under both systems. The shift to a comprehensive system was found to increase gender differences in the probability of choosing an academic secondary education and of continuing onto academic tertiary education. Moreover, the reform decreased the gender wage gap in adult income by four percentage points.

Suggested Citation

Pekkarinen, Tuomas, Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of Tracking from a Finnish Quasi-Experiment. Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 110, Issue 4, pp. 807-825, December 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1308724 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9442.2008.00562.x

Tuomas Pekkarinen (Contact Author)

Aalto University ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101
Finland

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

VATT Institute for Economic Research ( email )

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