Family Disadvantage and the Gender Gap in Behavioral and Educational Outcomes

Income Distribution, New Findings, July 2019

Boys born to dis­ad­van­taged fam­i­lies have high­er rates of dis­ci­pli­nary prob­lems, low­er achieve­ment scores, and few­er high school com­ple­tions than girls from com­pa­ra­ble back­grounds. Using birth cer­tifi­cates matched to school­ing records for Florida chil­dren born 1992–2002, we find that fam­i­ly dis­ad­van­tage dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impedes the pre-mar­ket devel­op­ment of boys. The dif­fer­en­tial effect of fam­i­ly dis­ad­van­tage on boys is robust to spec­i­fi­ca­tions with­in schools and neigh­bor­hoods as well as across sib­lings with­in fam­i­lies. Evidence sup­ports that this is the effect of the post­na­tal envi­ron­ment; fam­i­ly dis­ad­van­tage is unre­lat­ed to the gen­der gap in neona­tal health. We con­clude that the gen­der gap among black chil­dren is larg­er than among white chil­dren in sub­stan­tial part because black chil­dren are raised in more dis­ad­van­taged fam­i­lies.

Suggested cita­tion:

Autor, D., Figlio, D. Karbownik, K., Roth, J., & Wasserman, M. (2019). Family Disadvantage and the Gender Gap in Behavioral and Educational Outcomes. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 11(3), 338 – 381.