The Evolution of Gender Gaps in Numeracy and Literacy Between Childhood and Young Adulthood

Public seminar, 14 October 2019, 11am-12pm

Authors: Dr Marco Paccagnella (presenter), F. Borgonovi and A. Choi.

Numeracy and literacy skills have become increasingly important in modern labour markets. The existence of large gender differences in these skills is therefore of potential concern, and has spurred a large amount of research. Still, little is known about the moment in which such gaps emerge, how they evolve, and if their evolution differs across countries.

We use data from large scale international assessments to follow representative samples of birth-cohorts over time, and analyse how gender gaps in numeracy and literacy evolve from age 10 to age 27. We find that the advantage of males in numeracy is smallest at age 10, but grows considerably between age 15 and 27. The evolution of the gender gap in numeracy stands in sharp contrast with that of the gender gap in literacy, which is small at age 10, large and in favour of females at age 15, and negligible by age 27.

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This seminar is co-hosted by the NZ Work Research Institute and the New Zealand Productivity Commission.

The evolution of gender gaps


AUT City Campus
42 Wakefield Street,

About the presenter

Dr Marco Paccagnella is an analyst at the Department for Education and Skills of the OECD, where he is responsible for analysis and policy advice mainly based on data from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). His main research interests are in the economics of education and in labour economics. Before joining the OECD, he spent five years as an economics at the Bank of Italy. He holds a PhD in Economics from Bocconi University and a MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.