The Timing of Puberty and Gender Differences in Educational Achievement

31 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2017

See all articles by Kristian Koerselman

Kristian Koerselman

Åbo Akademi University

Tuomas Pekkarinen

Aalto University; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); VATT Institute for Economic Research

Abstract

In this paper, we study the effect of the timing of puberty on educational achievement and examine to what extent the gender differences in the timing of puberty can explain gender differences in achievement. We use British cohort data that combine information on pubertal development with test scores, behavioral outcomes as well as final educational attainment and earnings. Controlling for age 7 cognitive skills and family background, we show that late pubertal development is associated with a slower rate of cognitive skill growth during adolescence. This disadvantage in cognitive development is also reflected in lower levels of educational attainment and earnings for late developed individuals. The number of late developing boys is however too small to explain more than a fraction of the gender gap in educational outcomes. Furthermore, we find no effects on self-discipline or other behavioral outcomes in adolescence, suggesting a mechanism wholly separate from other causes of the gender gap.

Keywords: education, gender, adolescence, puberty, cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, attainment, earnings

JEL Classification: I20, J16

Suggested Citation

Koerselman, Kristian and Pekkarinen, Tuomas, The Timing of Puberty and Gender Differences in Educational Achievement. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10889, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3010667

Kristian Koerselman (Contact Author)

Åbo Akademi University

Tuomas Pekkarinen

Aalto University ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101
Finland

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

VATT Institute for Economic Research ( email )

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