Discussion paper

DP17786 The Reversal of the Gender Education Gap with Economic Development

Using household surveys covering 83 countries of all income levels, we document that the gender education gap in low-income countries is strikingly large and that it narrows and reverses with economic development. To study the driving forces, we propose a three-sector model in which development features skill-biased structural change, gender-biased technological change (a reduced form of changing discrimination), changing marriage markets, and varying levels of home productivity. The model is parameterized to match contrasting labor market outcomes by education and gender groups and it does well in matching the patterns of the gender education gap we document. Counterfactual exercises show that skill-biased structural change explains most of the narrowing gender education gap across the development spectrum, whereas other mechanisms play only a minor role.


Feng, Y, J Ren and M Rendall (2023), ‘DP17786 The Reversal of the Gender Education Gap with Economic Development‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 17786. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp17786