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This is consistent with the findings reported in Park et al. While these effects measure the causal effects of attending a single-sex (versus co-ed) school on test scores in Seoul, this total effect is specific to that context, as it combines the direct effect of exposure to single-sex versus mixed-gender peers and context-specific differences in school inputs between single-sex and co-ed schools.
Therefore, this parameter is of interest to students and parents in Seoul, but not generalisable to other settings.
That is, we can address the question: Here, we exploit school type changes (in conjunction with the random school assignment), and compare cohorts that were exposed to either a single-sex or co-ed environment at both the school and classroom levels.
We find that the conversion of school type from single-sex to co-ed leads to worse academic outcomes for both boys and girls, conditional on school fixed effects, suggesting that the combined effects of school- and classroom-level exposure to a single-sex (versus mixed-gender) environment are likely positive.
On the other hand, advocates of mixed education argue that boys in co-ed schools perform better as they are surrounded by female peers who are better behaved, and who perform better academically.
Proponents of single-sex education argue that the single-sex environment is beneficial to academic achievements for reasons such as students avoiding the attraction of the opposite sex, and being less likely to suffer from gender stereotypes.
For girls, however, it is classroom-level exposure to mixed-gender (versus same-sex) peers that explains the disadvantage from co-ed schooling. Dustmann, C, H Ku and D W Kwak (2017), “Why are single-sex schools successful?
While teenage boys may be more likely to be distracted than girls by a mixed-gender school environment (Coleman 1961, Hill 2015), girls may suffer more because of, for instance, an increase in disruptive behaviour (as discussed by Figlio 2007), or a diversion of the teacher’s attention to weaker students (as suggested by Lavy et al.
The preceding cohort, while not exposed to mixed-gender peers at the classroom level, were exposed to a school-level co-ed environment (and any school-wide changes due to the switch) for the last two of their three years of high school.
To the extent that school-level exposure to the newly-co-ed environment affect these two cohorts similarly, the difference in attainment between the two cohorts (and the corresponding difference in non-switching schools) allows us to answer our final question: We make use of the multi-grade nature of South Korean high schools, and the cohort-level conversion of pupil gender type.For boys, however, the benefits of having same-sex (versus mixed-gender) peers in their cohort are small and statistically insignificant.