NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Melanie Wasserman

Department of Economics
MIT
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2016Family Disadvantage and the Gender Gap in Behavioral and Educational Outcomes
with David Autor, David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth: w22267
Using birth certificates matched to schooling records for Florida children born 1992–2002, we assess whether family disadvantage disproportionately impedes the pre-market development of boys. We find that, relative to their sisters, boys born to disadvantaged families have higher rates of disciplinary problems, lower achievement scores, and fewer high-school completions. Evidence supports that this is a causal effect of the post-natal 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.
January 2016School Quality and the Gender Gap in Educational Achievement
with David H. Autor, David N. Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth: w21908
Recent evidence indicates that boys and girls are differently affected by the quantity and quality of family inputs received in childhood. We assess whether this is also true for schooling inputs. Using matched Florida birth and school administrative records, we estimate the causal effect of school quality on the gender gap in educational outcomes by contrasting opposite-sex siblings who attend the same sets of schools—thereby purging family heterogeneity—and leveraging within-family variation in school quality arising from family moves. Investigating middle school test scores, absences and suspensions, we find that boys benefit more than girls from cumulative exposure to higher quality schools.

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