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)

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