Gender differences in educational aspirations and attitudes

Tina Rampino, ISER

Tina Rampino

Co Authors
Mark Taylor

Educational attitudes, aspirations, gender, panel data, BHPS

We use data from the youth component of the British Household Panel Survey to examine how gender affects educational attitudes and aspirations among 11-15 year olds. We find that the impact of gender on children’s attitudes and aspirations varies significantly with parental education level, parental attitudes to education, child’s age and the indirect cost of education. Contrary to our expectations based on social control and gender role socialisation theories we find that boys are more responsive than girls to positive parental characteristics. Moreover we find that boys’ educational attitudes and aspirations tend to deteriorate at a younger age than girls’ and that, differently from girls, boys do not take into account information on the business cycle when reporting their educational attitudes and aspirations. These findings are particularly relevant when trying to design policies aiming at reducing the gender educational attainment gap since they help identifying other relevant household, economic and individual characteristics which exacerbate boys’ educational disadvantage.