An Attempt to Explain the Gender Gap Reversal in Academic Achievement in Arab Countries
Girls outperforming boys in academic achievement is attracting a lot of attention from educational researchers, and there is a growing literature on the factors explaining this reverse gender gap. This study aims to contribute to the literature by explaining the gender gap reversal in academic achievement of students in four Arab countries participating in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012. Using Amartya Sen’s capability approach, we define the desire to learn as an emotional capability. The latter is a hypothetical construct and a latent (unobservable) variable that we assume predicts achievement positively. We employ the Multiple Indicators Multiple Causes (MIMIC) technique to assess the desire to learn. The MIMIC estimation model is used to calculate the desire to learn scores for males and females. Our findings demonstrate that girls have a far higher score of desire to learn than boys which explains their outperformance.
Academic achievement, Capability approach, Desire to learn, Gender gap reversal, Multiple Indicators Multiple Causes (MIMIC)
 Alkhateeb, H. M. (2001). Gender differences in mathematics achievement among high school students in the United Arab Emirates, 1991–2000. School Science and Mathematics, 101(1), 5–9.
 Anand, P., Hunter, G., & Smith, R. (2005). Capabilities and well-being: Evidence based on the Sen-Nussbaum approach to welfare. Social Indicators Research, 74(1), 9–55.
 Andreoni, J., Di Girolamo, A., List, J. A., Mackevicius, C., & Samek, A. (2019). Risk preferences of children and adolescents in relation to gender, cognitive skills, soft skills, and executive functions. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 143,28–44.
 Baker, D., Goesling, B., & LeTendre, G. (2002). Socioeconomic status, school quality, and national economic development: a cross national analysis of the “Heyneman– Loxley Effect” on mathematics and science achievement. Comparative Education Review, 46(3), 291–312.
 Bouhlila, S. D. (2014). The quality of secondary education in the Middle East and North Africa: Essays using TIMSS 2007 data. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Tunis El Manar]. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing.
 Bouhlila, S. D. (2015). The Heyneman–Loxley effect revisited in the Middle East and North Africa: Analysis using TIMSS 2007 database. International Journal of Educational Development, 42, 85–95.
 Bossavie, L., & Ohto, K. (2018). What explains the gender gap reversal in educational attainment? (Working Paper No. 8303). World Bank Policy Research. https://ssrn.com/abstract=3104303
 Byrne, B. M. (1998). Structural equation modeling with LISREL, PRELIS and SIMPLIS: Basic concepts, applications and programming. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
 Claassen, R. (2020). Selecting a list: The Capability Approach’s Achilles’ Heel. In E. Chiappero-Martinetti, S. Osmani, & M. Qizilbash (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of the capability approach (pp. 188–205. Cambridge University Press.
 Clark, D. A. (2005). The capability approach: Its development, critiques and recent advances. GPRG-WPS-032. Economic and Social Research Council.
 Cobb-Clark, D. A., & Moschion, J. (2017). Gender gaps in early educational achievement. Journal of Population Economics, 30(4), 1093–1134.
 Coleman, J. S., Campbell, E. Q., Hobson, C. J., McPartland, J., Mood, A. M., Weinfall, F. D., & York, R. L. (1966). The equality of educational opportunity. United States Department of Health Education and Welfare.
 Crosnoe, R., Johnson, M. K., & Elder, G. H. (2004). School size and the interpersonal side of education: An examination of race/ethnicity and organizational context. Social Science Quarterly, 85(5), 1259–1274.
 Dercon, S., & Singh, A. (2013). From nutrition to aspirations and self-efficacy: Gender bias over time among children in four countries. World Development, 45, 31–50.
 Diamantopoulos, A., & Siguaw, J. A. (2000). Introducing LISREL. SAGE Publications.
 Di Tommaso, M. (2007). Children capabilities: A structural equation model for India. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 36(3), 436–450.
 Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087–1101.
 Entwisle, D. R., Alexander, K. L., & Olson, L. S. (2007). Early schooling: The handicap of being poor and male. Sociology of Education, 80(2):114–138.
 Federici, R. A., & Skaalvik, E. M. (2014). Students’ perceptions of emotional and instrumental teacher support: Relations with motivational and emotional responses. International Education Studies, 7(1), 21–36.
 Hausmann, R., Tyson, L. T., & Zahidi, S. (2009). The global gender gap report. Geneva: World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.in.gov/icw/files/Global_Gender_Gap_Full_Report_2009.pdf
 Heyneman, S. P. (2015). The Heyneman/Loxley effect: Three decades of debate. In: S. McGrath & Q. Gu (Eds.), Routledge International Handbook on Education and Development. Routledge.
 Hofmann, W., & Nordgren, L. F. (Eds.). (2015). The psychology of desire. The Guilford Press.
 Hooper, D., Coughlan, J., & Mullen, M. R. (2008). Structural equation modelling: Guidelines for determining model fit. The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 6(1), 53–60.
 Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1), 1–55.
 Husain, M., & Millimet, D. L. (2009). The mythical ‘boy crisis’? Economics of Education Review, 28(1): 38–48.
 Jöreskog, K. G., & Goldberger, A. S. (1975). Estimation of a model with multiple indicators and multiple causes of a single latent variable. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 351(70), 631–639.
 Klasen, S. (2002). Low schooling for girls, slower growth for all? Cross-country evidence on the effect of gender inequality in education on economic development. The World Bank Economic Review, 16(3), 345–373.
 Krishnakumar, J., & Ballon, P. (2008). Estimating basic capabilities: A structural equation model applied to Bolivia. World Development, 36(6), 992–1010.
 Labour statistics. (2020). Labor Statistics for the GCC countries in the first quarter of 2020. GCC-STAT. Retrieved from https://www.gccstat.org/en/statistic/statistics/labour
 Lavy, V., & Sand, E. (2015). On the origins of gender human capital gaps: short and long term consequences of teachers stereotypical biases (NBER Working Paper No. 20909). National Bureau of Economic Research. https://www.nber.org/papers/w20909
 Legewie, J., & DiPrete, T. A. (2012). School context and the gender gap in educational achievement. American Sociological Review, 77(3), 463–485.
 Llie, S., & Lietz, P. (2010). School quality and student achievement in 21 European countries: The Heyneman–Loxley effect revisited. IERI Monograph Series: Issues and Methodologies in Large-Scale Assessments, 3, 57–84.
 Martinetti, E. C. (2000). A multidimensional assessment of well-being based on Sen’s functioning approach. Revista Internazionale di Scienze Social, 108(2), 207–239.
 Maxwell, S., Reynolds, K. J., Lee, E., Subasic, E., & Bromhead, D. (2017). The impact of school climate and school identification on academic achievement: Multilevel modeling with student and teacher data. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1–21.
 McDonald, R. P., & Ho, M.-H. R. (2002). Principles and practice in reporting statistical equation analyses. Psychological Methods, 7(1), 64–82.
 Mencarini, L., Pasqua, S., & Romiti, A. (2019). Single-mother families and the gender gap in children’s time investment and non-cognitive skills. Review of Economics of the Household, 17(1), 149–176.
 Nollenberger, N., Rodrígues-Planas, N., & Sevilla, A. (2016). The math gender gap: The role of culture. American Economic Review, 106(5), 257–261.
 Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Hooper, M. (2016). TIMSS 2015 international results in mathematics. In B. B. Frey (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of educational research, measurement, and evaluation. SAGE Publishing.
 Mullis, I. V. S., et al. (2017). PIRLS 2016 International Results in Reading. http://timssandpirls.bc.edu/pirls2016/international-results/
 Nussbaum, M. C. (2000). Women and human development: The capabilities approach. Cambridge University Press.
 Nussbaum, M. (2003). Capabilities as Fundamental entitlements: Sen and social justice. Feminist Economics, 9(2/3): 33–59.
 Nussbaum, M. (2006). Frontiers of justice: Disability, nationality, species membership. Harvard University Press.
 OECD. (2013). PISA 2012 Results:Ready to learn (Volume III). Students’ engagement, drive and self-beliefs. PISA, OECD Publishing.
 Penner, A. M., & Paret, M. (2008). Gender differences in mathematics achievement: Exploring the early grades and the extremes. Social Science Research, 37(1): 239– 253.
 Pope, D. G., & Sydnor, J. R. (2010). Geographic variation in the gender differences in test scores. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(2): 95–108.
 Psaki, S. R., McCarthy, K. J., & Mensch, B. S. (2018). Measuring gender equality in education: Lessons from trends in 43 countries. Population and Development Review, 44(1): 117–142.
 Randeree, K. (2012). Workforce nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council States. Center for International and Regional Studies Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/141001/KasimRandereeCIRSOccasionalPaper9.pdf
 Ridge, N. (2014). Education and the reverse gender divide in the Gulf States: Embracing the global, ignoring the local. Teachers College Press.
 Robeyns, I. (2005). The capability approach: A theoretical survey. Journal of Human Development, 6(1): 93–117.
 Roeser, R. W., Midgley, C., & Urdan, T. C. (1996). Perceptions of the school psychological environment and early adolescents’ psychological and behavioral functioning in school: The mediating role of goals and belonging. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(3), 408–422.
 Sen, A. (1985). Commodities and capabilities. North-Holland.
 Sen, A. (1987). The standard of living. Cambridge University Press.
 Sen, A. (2008). Capabilities, lists, and public reason: Continuing the conversation. Feminist Economics, 10(3), 77–80.
 Skaalvik, E. M., Roger, A., Federici, R. A., & Klassen, R. M. (2015). Mathematics achievement and self-efficacy: Relations with motivation for mathematics. International Journal of Educational Research, 72, 129–136.
 UNDP. (1990). Human development report. UNDP.
 UNESCO. (2015a). Education 2030. Incheon declaration and framework for action. Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all. UNESCO. http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/education-2030- incheon-framework-for-action-implementation-of-sdg4-2016-en_2.pdf
 UNESCO. (2015b). Education for all global monitoring report 2015: Gender summary. UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002348/234809E.pdf
 UNESCO. (2019) Institute for statistics. UNESCO. http://data.uis.unesco.org/
 United Nations. (2018). Sustainable development goals. United Nations. http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
 United Nations. (2019). The Arab gender gap report 2020. Gender equality and the sustainable development goals. United Nations. https://publications.unescwa.org/projects/aggr/index.html#\39
 Ward, M. (2020). PISA for development: Out-of-school assessment. Results in focus. PISA, OCDE Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/491fb74a-en
 World Bank. (2019). Expectations and aspirations. A new framework for education in the Middle East and North Africa. World Bank. https://documents1.worldbank.org/ curated/en/527931542039352771/pdf/Overview.pdf
 Zuze, T. L. (2015) . A riddle explained: Gender disparities in East African education. African Review of Economics and Finance, 7(2), 29–59.