Gender Convergence in Education Choice: The Role of Institutions and Peers

20 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2018 Last revised: 1 Feb 2021

See all articles by Juanna Schrøter Joensen

Juanna Schrøter Joensen

University of Chicago; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Helena Skyt Nielsen

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: January 29, 2021

Abstract

How do institutions and peer groups shape skills? We exploit a universal free-choice reform signaling less importance of advanced math-science in high school. We show how it amplified the fall in math-science skills and triggered gender convergence as boys crowded-in the free-choice reform. We show that these empirical patterns are consistent with a model where education choices are determined by the interaction of (i) material costs and benefits embedded in institutions, (ii) identity costs associated with breaking the norm of following older siblings’ education choice, and (iii) social reputation in the school-cohort peer group that alters the importance of identity costs. The model allows for both complementarity and substitutability between individual and social motives. This is imperative for explaining the empirical facts as complementarity (or conformity) arises endogenously in equilibrium when individuals infer the social norm from their school-cohort peers’ education choices.

Keywords: Course choice, intrinsic and extrinsic incentives, siblings, peers, gender, social norm, conformity.

JEL Classification: I21, I24, J24, J16, J12, Z13

Suggested Citation

Joensen, Juanna Schrøter and Nielsen, Helena Skyt, Gender Convergence in Education Choice: The Role of Institutions and Peers (January 29, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3246074 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3246074

Juanna Schrøter Joensen (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

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

Helena Skyt Nielsen

Aarhus University - Department of Economics and Business Economics ( email )

Fuglesangs Alle 4
Aarhus, 8210
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://person.au.dk/hnielsen@econ.au.dk

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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