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Adolescent development and the math gender gap

Borra, Cristina, Iacovou, Maria and Sevilla, Almudena (2023) Adolescent development and the math gender gap. European Economic Review, 158. ISSN 0014-2921

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2023.104542

Abstract

This paper investigates the determinants of the gap between girls and boys in mathematics performance (the ‘math gap’). We are particularly interested in the role played by pubertal development in explaining the widening of the math gap over adolescence. We estimate rich production function models of math skills, using data from the 1958 British National Child Development Study (NCDS), a longitudinal survey of all British children born in a single week in March 1958 which contains unique information on pubertal development and educational outcomes. Using (cumulative) value-added models, we show that the impact of puberty varies by the age and gender of the child, and that this heterogeneity can explain about two thirds of the math gap that emerges between the ages of 11 and 16. We find also that the widening of the math gap during adolescence is driven by markers of pubertal development which are publicly evident, rather than by markers which are only privately evident; and that the relationship between puberty and math scores is strongly associated with children's self-perceived ability in math. Taken together, these results suggest that the mechanisms underlying the relationship between pubertal development and the math gender gap are socially rather than biologically driven.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
L Education
H Social Sciences
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I21 - Analysis of Education
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J16 - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2023 14:15
Last Modified: 26 May 2024 16:45
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/119961

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