David Autor, David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth, Melanie Wasserman, 11 June 2021

Modest gender gaps emerge in primary school, with girls tending to perform better than boys in reading tests, for example, and less likely to experience disciplinary incidents that result in suspension. This column uses data from the US state of Florida to examine why these modest gaps translate into large gender differences in later educational attainment, such as completing secondary education and enrolling in and graduating from tertiary education. It finds that early childhood family environment has differential effects on boys, and particularly those at the lower tails of the academic test score and attendance distributions.

Andrea Ichino, Martin Olsson, Barbara Petrongolo, Peter Skogman Thoursie, 11 September 2019

Gender identity norms are possible drivers of persistent gender inequalities in the labour market, but the extent to which such norms restrict the behaviour of couples is debated. This column examines how households in Sweden changed their allocation of home production in response to the introduction of a tax credit that altered the marginal tax rates (and the relative take-home pay) in different ways for spouses in couples. It finds that immigrant couples, who tend to come from countries with more traditional gender norms than Sweden, responded more strongly to a reduction in the husband’s tax rate than the wife’s. By not responding to wives’ tax cuts, these couples may forgo as much as £2,000 per year in household disposable income.

Alison Booth, Jungmin Lee, 11 May 2019

The gender pay gap in South Korea is the highest in the OECD and South Korean women are under-represented in public life. This column uses data from a long-running TV quiz show to examine whether these gender gaps may be due to differences in male and female attitudes to competition.The results suggest that South Korean girls are increasingly hindered by psychological stress and risk aversion as the pressure from competition increases, and also tend to be less confident in their knowledge than boys. The findings stand in contrast to those from similar studies in the US, possibly due to differences in cultural values.

Alison Booth, Eiji Yamamura, 14 March 2017

Differences in attitudes to competition or risk may contribute to explaining gender gaps in wages and other labour market outcomes. This column analyses performance data from speedboat races in Japan revealing that women tend to race more slowly against men than against other women only, while men are faster in mixed-sex races. This finding may be driven by the skewed gender balance towards men in mixed-sex races triggering awareness of gender identity for both men and women, with implications for other activities in which men and women compete and women are outnumbered, such as the STEM disciplines.


CEPR Policy Research