Lunch Seminar Economics (LSE) - 2021/2022
Interviene: Maddalena Davoli, Goethe University Frankfurt
Title: A, B or C? Question Format and the Gender Gap in Financial Literacy
Authors: Maddalena Davoli
Abstract: Financial literacy surveys, almost exclusively based on multiple-choice questions, have consistently found financial literacy gender gaps worldwide. At the same time, there is evidence that women perform worse than men on multiple-choice questions. This article, employing data from PISA 2015, analyzes the differential gender effect of question formats on students' financial literacy assessment. Having answers to both multiple-choice and open-response questions for each student, we employ a panel specification and use within-student variation while controlling for students' fixed characteristics. We show that girls perform worse than boys when answering multiple-choice questions, whereas such a difference is not observed for the open-response format. Moreover, we highlight how the results may be driven by question characteristics underlying the selected-response format, especially the context and cognitive process of the question, whereas no role is found for students' non-cognitive traits. Evidence suggests that our results are generalizable to settings other than the 15-years old population tested in PISA and that specific policy aimed at training individuals to the multiple-choice format may help close the observed difference.