Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Adams and Eves: The Gender Gap in Economics Majors

Author(s): Graziella Bertocchi, Luca Bonacini and Marina Murat

Publication Date: December 2021

Keyword(s): Business Economics, economics, Education Gender Gap, Higher education, Major Choice, Major Switching, Mathematics and Stereotypes

Programme Area(s): Macroeconomics and Growth and Public Economics

Abstract: We investigate the gender gap in Economics among bachelor's and master's graduates in Italy between 2010 and 2019. First we establish that being female exerts a negative impact on the choice to major in Economics: at the bachelor level, only 73 women graduate in Economics for every 100 men, with the mathematical content of high school curricula as the key driver of the effect and a persistence of the gap at the master level. Second, within a full menu of major choices, Economics displays the largest gap, followed by STEM and then Business Economics. Third, decomposition analyses expose a unique role for the math background in driving the Economics gender gap relative to other fields. Fourth, a triple difference analysis of a high school reform shows that an increase in the math content of traditionally low math curricula caused an increase in the Economics gender gap among treated students.

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Bibliographic Reference

Bertocchi, G, Bonacini, L and Murat, M. 2021. 'Adams and Eves: The Gender Gap in Economics Majors'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.