Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement

60 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2013 Last revised: 27 Aug 2013

See all articles by Nicole M. Fortin

Nicole M. Fortin

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Shelley Phipps

Dalhousie University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2013

Abstract

Using three decades of data from the "Monitoring the Future" cross-sectional surveys, this paper shows that, from the 1980s to the 2000s, the mode of girls' high school GPA distribution has shifted from "B" to "A", essentially "leaving boys behind" as the mode of boys' GPA distribution stayed at "B". In a reweighted Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition of achievement at each GPA level, we find that gender differences in post-secondary expectations, controlling for school ability, and as early as 8th grade are the most important factor accounting for this trend. Increases in the growing proportion of girls who aim for a post-graduate degree are sufficient to account for the increase over time in the proportion of girls earning "A's". The larger relative share of boys obtaining "C" and C+" can be accounted for by a higher frequency of school misbehavior and a higher proportion of boys aiming for a two-year college degree.

Suggested Citation

Fortin, Nicole M. and Oreopoulos, Philip and Phipps, Shelley, Leaving Boys Behind: Gender Disparities in High Academic Achievement (August 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19331. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2311580

Nicole M. Fortin (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Department of Economics
Vancouver, BC V6T1Z1
Canada
604-822-3222 (Phone)
604-822-5915 (Fax)

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

Shelley Phipps

Dalhousie University - Department of Economics ( email )

Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 3J5
Canada

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