G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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NBER has an interesting piece of research titled “Boy-Girl Differences in Parental Time Investments“.
Indications of human capital differences by sex emerge at young ages. Some preliminary evidence of sex/gender differences in test scores and cognitive measures at the preschool level is presented in table 1.3 We report the means of vocabulary and math test scores at ages 4 and 5 for girls and boys born in the 2000s in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. We also report a ‘conditional difference,’ estimated by ordinary least squares controlling for some standard observable characteristics (described below) and inferring the difference from an indicator variable for a male child. In almost all cases boys trail girls at the mean, with the gap ranging from 12% to 18% of a standard deviation. The emergence of this gender achievement gap at school entry is particularly salient given widespread agreement on the importance of early childhood experiences and investments to later life outcomes (e.g., Almond and Currie 2011).
Ungated draft here. The research finds that parents engage in more educational activities than they do with boys.
The estimates of the gender differences in cognitive activities for the U.S. are reported in table 4. At 9 months (first panel), there is evidence that parents are more likely to read, and to a lesser extent sing songs, to their first-born girl than their first-born boy. The differences in the frequency of telling stories and going on errands also favor girls although are very small and statistically insignificant. By age 2 (second panel) this initial pattern is now well established, with statistically significant and larger effects favoring girls in all activities except running errands. There are also a number of additional variables available in the second wave. One is a variable asking whether the child had visited a library in the last month. This was more likely, by 6 percentage points, if the child is female. There are also questions about whether the child attends a “story time”, and the number of books and number of CDs/records s/he has. The estimates for these latter two variables are statistically significant again favoring girls. Finally, in the bottom panel of table 4 are the results at age 4. They provide further evidence of a female advantage in these inputs. New here is a variable capturing how long the child is read to, on the days this activity occurs. The female advantage is about 3 minutes on average.