Males at the Tails: How Socioeconomic Status Shapes the Gender Gap

Income Distribution, New Findings, June 2020

Analyzing Florida birth cer­tifi­cates matched to school records, we doc­u­ment that the female advan­tage in child­hood behav­ioral and aca­d­e­m­ic out­comes is dri­ven by gen­der gaps at the extremes of the out­come dis­tri­b­u­tion. Using uncon­di­tion­al quan­tile regres­sion, we inves­ti­gate whether fam­i­ly socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus (SES) dif­fer­en­tial­ly affects the low­er tail out­comes of boys. We find that the dif­fer­en­tial effects of fam­i­ly SES on boys’ out­comes are con­cen­trat­ed in the parts of the dis­tri­b­u­tion where the gen­der gaps are most pro­nounced. Accounting for the dis­pro­por­tion­ate effects of fam­i­ly envi­ron­ment on boys at the tails sub­stan­tial­ly nar­rows the gen­der gap in high school dropout.