Gender Differences in Reactions to Failure in High-Stakes Competition: Evidence from the National College Entrance Exam Retakes

57 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2021 Last revised: 21 Oct 2021

See all articles by Le Kang

Le Kang

Peking University - China Institute for Educational Finance Research (CIEFR)

Ziteng Lei

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics

Yang Song

Colgate University - Economics Department

Peng Zhang

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Date Written: October 20, 2021

Abstract

We document gender differences in reactions to failure in the National College Entrance Exam, an extremely high-stakes exam that solely determines college admission outcomes for almost all teenagers in China. Using unique administrative data in Ningxia Province and a regression-discontinuity design, we find that students who score just below the tier-2 university cutoff have an eight percentage point higher probability of retaking the exam in the next year, and that retaking improves exam performance substantially. However, the increase in retake probability when confronting the failure of scoring just below the cutoff is more pronounced for men than for women (11 percentage points vs. 5.5 percentage points). The gender disparity in the tendency to retake has important implications for exam performance, college enrollment, and labor market outcomes.

Keywords: Education, gender, competition, retake, National College Entrance Exam, China

JEL Classification: I20, I21, I23, I24, J16, J24

Suggested Citation

Kang, Le and Lei, Ziteng and Song, Yang and Zhang, Peng, Gender Differences in Reactions to Failure in High-Stakes Competition: Evidence from the National College Entrance Exam Retakes (October 20, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3861378 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3861378

Le Kang

Peking University - China Institute for Educational Finance Research (CIEFR) ( email )

No. 5 Yiheyuan Road
Haidian District
Beijing, 100871
China

Ziteng Lei

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

Santa Barbara, CA

Yang Song

Colgate University - Economics Department ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346
United States

Peng Zhang (Contact Author)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen ( email )

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