Competitiveness, Risk Attitudes, and the Gender Gap in Math Achievement

Author Name YAGASAKI Masayuki (University of Tokyo) / NAKAMURO Makiko (Keio University)
Creation Date/NO. October 2018 18-E-066
Research Project Research on the Improvement in Resource Allocation and Productivity among the Healthcare and Education Service Industries
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In this paper, we investigate how competitiveness and risk attitudes are related to math achievement among middle school students. We conduct an experiment at six public middle schools in Japan to collect incentivized measures of competitiveness and risk attitudes and merge them with an administrative dataset containing information on students' cognitive achievements. The results from the experiment show that girls are less competitive and exhibit greater risk aversion compared to boys, which are in line with the previous literature. We find that competitiveness is positively correlated with math achievement conditional on students' prior achievements and demographics, while greater risk aversion is associated with higher math achievement (but not with reading and English). Taken together, the results indicate that the gender differences in competitiveness are widening the gender gap in math achievement, but that the gender differences in risk attitudes contribute to narrowing it.