Saturday, February 23, 2013

boys and girls in the classroom

New evidence from Italy has strong implications for mixed high-school education. (See also this.) Anelli and Peri find that girls in single sex classes are more likely to study "hard" subjects (e.g., economics or engineering) at University than those in mixed-sex classes.

The policy conclusion are clear:
If an objective of schooling is to increase women’s career opportunities and thereby their salaries, our results would suggest that gender-separated classrooms would be an effective step in the right direction. Gender-separated classrooms would increase the probability of choosing high-earning majors for both women and men.

Similar evidence, for university students, have been obtained by Booth and Nolan: "after eight weeks in a single-sex environment, women were significantly more likely to choose the [risky] lottery".

While the Italian evidence is from a "natural experiment", the evidence by Booth and Nolan is from an actual field-experiment, following an earlier study in high-schools. Good schools should offer students the possibility of choosing single-sex classes or offer the possibility of a random lottery over single-sex or co-ed classes. (Which provides additional data for analyses of peer-effects and subsequent outcomes.)

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