Family disadvantage and the gender gap in behavioral and educational outcomes

David Autor, David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth, Melanie Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Boys born to disadvantaged families have higher rates of disciplinary problems, lower achievement scores, and fewer high school completions than girls from comparable backgrounds. Using birth certificates matched to schooling records for Florida children born 1992-2002, we find that family disadvantage disproportionately impedes the pre-market development of boys. The differential effect of family disadvantage on boys is robust to specifications within schools and neighborhoods as well as across siblings within families. Evidence supports that this is the effect of the postnatal environment; family disadvantage is unrelated to the gender gap in neonatal health. We conclude that the gender gap among black children is larger than among white children in substantial part because black children are raised in more disadvantaged families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-381
Number of pages44
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Applied Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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