Why Do Boys and Girls Make Different Educational Choices? The Influence of Expected Earnings and Test Scores

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 01/16

Date: 2016

Author(s):

Benoît Rapoport
Claire Thibout

Abstract

More often, girls choose educational pathways leading to low-paid jobs and less prestigious careers, despite having equal access to education and performing as well as boys at school. We estimate a model of educational choices, in which the anticipated cost of choosing a given stream depends on the skills in each subject and is allowed to differ between boys and girls. Using a cohort of French pupils, we show first that choices at grades 10 and 12 are driven by expected future earnings and second, that boys and girls value differently their test scores when choosing study paths. Differences appear less on major choices, but rather in the degree of selectivity. Generally, girls place less value than boys on their test scores in subjects that are relevant for the chosen field of study. In particular, girls under-estimate their skills in Sciences when choosing the most prestigious and competitive pathways.

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