An econometric investigation of the productivity gender gap in Mexican research, and a simulation study of the effects on scientific performance of policy scenarios to promote gender equality

Lorena Rivera Leon, Jacques Mairesse & Robin Cowan


This paper provides evidence on the existence and determinants of the publication productivity gender gap in Mexico at the individual level and on its consequences on the Mexican scientific system and productivity at disciplinary and aggregate levels. The paper specifies and performs a panel data econometric analysis based on a sample of Mexican researchers who are members of the National System of Researchers (SNI) of Mexico in the period 2002-2013. It corrects for a selectivity bias: the existence of periods with no (or low quality) publication, and endogeneity bias: the promotion to higher academic ranks. We define and implement counterfactual simulations to both effects, assess the magnitude of macro-impacts of existing gender gaps and illustrate the potential effects of a range of policy scenarios. The results show no significant gender gaps for an average SNI researcher. Moreover, when correcting for the endogeneity and selectivity biases, we find that the average female researcher in public universities is around 8% more productive than her male peers, with most of the observed productivity being explained by gender differentials in the propensity to have periods of no (or low) quality publication. We find that barriers to promotion to higher academic ranks are highest among females in public research centres. Our macro scenarios on promotion practices, selectivity, collaboration and age show that eliminating gender gaps would increase aggregate productivity by an average of 7% for university females and 9% for females in research centres.

JEL Classification: C23, I23

Keywords: scientific productivity, gender productivity puzzle, Mexico, economics of science, economics of gender