Biology and the Gender Gap in Educational Performance: The Role of Prenatal Testosterone in Test Scores

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018-086/V

52 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2018

See all articles by Anne Gielen

Anne Gielen

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE)

Esmee Zwiers

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 16, 2018

Abstract

This paper explores the contribution of biological factors in explaining gender differences in educational performance, with a particular focus on the role of prenatal testosterone. We exploit the fact that prenatal testosterone is hypothesized to transfer in-utero from a male twin to his twin sibling causing exogenous variation in exposure to prenatal testosterone in twins. By using Dutch administrative data and controlling for potential socialization effects, we find that girls with a twin brother score 7% of a standard deviation lower on math compared to girls with a twin sister. Adherence to traditional gender norms can explain this finding, implying that our results are not just driven by biology but materialize depending on environmental factors.

Keywords: gender performance gap, twins, prenatal testosterone

JEL Classification: I20, J16

Suggested Citation

Gielen, Anne and Zwiers, Esmee, Biology and the Gender Gap in Educational Performance: The Role of Prenatal Testosterone in Test Scores (November 16, 2018). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018-086/V. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3285836 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3285836

Anne Gielen (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam, NL 3062 PA
Netherlands

Esmee Zwiers

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

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