Beyond the Classroom: Using Title Ix to Measure the Return to High School Sports

36 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2006

See all articles by Betsey Stevenson

Betsey Stevenson

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2006


Previous research has found that male high school athletes experience better outcomes than non-athletes, including higher educational attainment, more employment, and higher wages. Students self-select into athletics, however, so these may be selection effects rather than causal effects. To address this issue, I examine Title IX which provides a unique quasi-experiment in female athletic participation. Between 1972 and 1978 U.S. high schools rapidly increased their female athletic participation rates (to approximately the same level as their male athletic participation rates) in order to comply with Title IX. This paper uses variation in the level of boys' athletic participation across states before Title IX as an instrument for the change in girls' athletic participation over the 1970s. Analyzing differences in outcomes for both the pre- and post-Title IX cohorts across states, I find that a 10-percentage point rise in state-level female sports participation generates a 1 percentage point increase in female college attendance and a 1 to 2 percentage point rise in female labor force participation. Furthermore, greater opportunities to play sports leads to greater female participation in previously male-dominated occupations, particularly for high-skill occupations.

Keywords: education, female labor force participation, Title IX, sports, gender equity, employment

JEL Classification: K30, J16, J20, J24, J70, J71, J78, I20, I28, K10

Suggested Citation

Stevenson, Betsey, Beyond the Classroom: Using Title Ix to Measure the Return to High School Sports (March 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Betsey Stevenson (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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