Identifying and Explaining Gender Peer Effects in Elementary Schools
Keywords:Gender inequality., Academic achievement in Brazil., Peer effects.
The aim of this paper is to investigate the casual relationship and the mechanisms behind school gender composition and scholastic achievement. We use four cohorts of 5th grade student’s assessment of Math and Portuguese in Brazilian elementary public schools and apply an identification strategy relying on school level gender peer effects and school fixed effects to control for self-selection of students across schools. We identify a positive relationship between scholastic achievement and the proportion of female students. This effect is underlined by improvements in student behavior, as indicated by teachers’ assessment of student’s academic potential, self-esteem, interest, discipline, absenteeism, and perception about syllabus coverage and school violence. Hence, this research draws attention to gender as an important factor in the allocation of students and teachers within schools. The consideration of our findings in the formulation and execution of policies can result in effective low-cost measures aimed at increasing achievement.