Puberty&Education - Pubertal timing and inequalities in education
The project Puberty&Education: Pubertal timing and inequalities in education has been granted NOK 10 million. The Researcher Project for Scientific Renewal is funded by the Research Council of Norway through the Education and competence call.
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Within a typical classroom, the onset of puberty occurs four years earlier for the first developing girl than for the latest developing boy. However, it is not clear how these large inter-personal differences affect school performance and educational trajectories, with previous studies finding negative effects of both early and late pubertal timing on school performance. This project therefore aims to provide new knowledge on how variation in pubertal timing affects school performance during adolescence and inequalities in education later in life, and to assess policies that could mitigate adverse consequences of such relationships.
To this end, we will use data from Norway and Denmark that combine cohort studies with extensive register data in both countries. We will use height-based measures of puberty and questions about sexual maturity from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) as well as diagnosed pubertal disorders, linked to school performance from national registers. We will study how early or late pubertal timing is associated with school performance, whether these associations depend on early childhood development and peer context, and whether pubertal timing relates to educational choices. Furthermore, we will consider whether an extra school year in Denmark mitigates adverse consequences of pubertal timing for educational achievement, and whether education was affected by the introduction and abolishment of an extra school year after lower secondary school in Norway.
With a longer perspective, we will study how age at menarche has evolved over almost 100 years using MoBa and the Cohort of Norway study, and assess how it relates to socioeconomic background during the last half century. This data will also be used to study how age at menarche is related to educational attainment of women and school performance in the next generation.
- We are very pleased to obtain funding for a project where we gather expertise from several departments at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, says Martin Flatø, who has developed the project. The application was led by Camilla Stoltenberg, who will be actively involved in the project in her new position as Director of NORCE. The project is coordinated from the Centre for Fertility and Health, and partners are the Institute for Social Research, Aarhus University and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.
- The project could provide significant synergies, Flatø says. It is closely linked to the ERC Synergy Grant procject Biosfer, which looks at developments in fertility and reproductive abilities among young adults. It complements other education-related projects at the Centre for Fertility and Health, such as the Health-Gap project on gender differences in school performance and Lost in Transitions on transitions in the education system. We will also draw on important knowledge from the Bergen growth study.