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
Date Written: October 20, 2021
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
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