Two economists have studied the effects “of classroom gender composition on scholastic achievements of boys and girls in Israeli primary, middle, and high schools.” They wanted to know if having a disproportionate number of one gender in the classroom influences academic performance. Their conclusion? Your son will be a better student if he attends an all-girl school:
Our results suggest that an increase in the proportion of girls leads to a significant improvement in students’ cognitive outcomes. The estimated effects are of similar magnitude for boys and girls. As important mechanisms, we find that a higher proportion of female peers lowers the level of classroom disruption and violence, improves inter-student and student-teacher relationships as well as students’ overall satisfaction in school, and lessens teachers’ fatigue.
The evolutionary psychologist in me wonders if having a higher girl-to-boy ratio in the classroom means that boys are less likely to compete for the attention of girls, which would translate into fewer fights and other disruptive behaviors. When I think back on my own misdeeds in middle school and high school, most of them seemed related to the ruthless competition for the favor of females. Adolescent courtship rituals are definitely bad for academic achievement.
Hat Tip: Tyler Cowen