Gender Differences in Education

40 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2012

See all articles by Tuomas Pekkarinen

Tuomas Pekkarinen

Aalto University; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); VATT Institute for Economic Research


This paper surveys the trends in gender gaps in education, their causes and potential policy implications. I show that female educational attainment has surpassed, or is about to surpass, male educational attainment in most industrialized countries. These gaps reflect male overrepresentation among secondary school drop-outs and female overrepresentation among tertiary education students and graduates. Existing evidence suggests that this pattern is a result of a combination of increasing returns to education and lower female effort costs of education. Widening gender gap in education combined with recent wage and employment polarization will likely lead to widening inequalities and is linked to declining male labor force participation. The paper discusses evidence on educational policies that both widen and reduce gender gaps in educational outcomes.

Keywords: gender differences, test scores, education

JEL Classification: I20, J160, J240

Suggested Citation

Pekkarinen, Tuomas, Gender Differences in Education. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6390, Available at SSRN:

Tuomas Pekkarinen (Contact Author)

Aalto University ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

VATT Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics