South Africa’s Pro-Girl Gap in PIRLS and TIMSS: How Much Can Be Explained?

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP17/2020
 
Publication date: September 2020
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Research on Socio-Economic Policy (ReSEP), Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
 
Abstract:

This paper analyses South Africa’s pro-girl gap in Grade 4 reading and Grade 5 mathematics achievement. I make use of Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition analysis to decompose the observed gender gaps into their explained and unexplained components, separately by school socio-economic quintile. Contributing to a growing body of evidence internationally that pro-girl gaps in education may be due to girls having better-developed non-cognitive skills than boys, I find that South African girls display more of the traits and behaviours that are associated with school achievement than boys. Interestingly, the results of the decomposition analysis suggest that these factors explain a larger proportion of the pro-girl gap in Grade 4 reading than Grade 5 mathematics. The results further indicate that although part of South Africa’s pro-girl gap in PIRLS and TIMSS is attributable to a female advantage in grade completion in the early grades, there is still much about South Africa’s pro-girl advantage in education that remains unexplained.

 
JEL Classification:

I20, I21, I24

Keywords:

gender, non-cognitive skills, literacy, numeracy

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BER Weekly

1 March 2021
Even with the release of data showing a record high unemployment rate in 2020Q4, it turned out to be a fairly good week for the SA economy. Daily new COVID-19 infections remained well contained, while the second batch of 80 000 J&J vaccines arrived (albeit controversially with the grounded SAA being the carrier). In addition, relative to the October...

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