On average, boys score higher than girls on math achievement tests and girls score higher than boys in reading. A worrying fact is that these gaps increase between primary and secondary school. This paper investigates the role of early educational tracking (sorting students into different types of secondary schools at an early age) on gender gaps in test achievement. We analyze PISA, PIRLS, and TIMSS data to study how cross-country variation in the age of first tracking affects the country-specifc widening gender gap in a difference-in-differences framework. We find strong evidence that early tracking increases gender differences in reading. Early tracking also increases the gender gap in math scores, but the results for math are sensitive to the year of the dataset analyzed and to the inclusion of particular countries in the analysis. For both subjects, every year for which the age of first tracking is postponed weakens the effect of early tracking on the gender gap in achievement.
|Department of Economics Working Paper Series
- Department of Economics Working Paper Series