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Health Gap: Health, maturity, and gender gap in education - project description

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The project aims to understand the health consequences of gender differences in school performance and examine whether they are explained by differences in timing of physical maturity between girls and boys.


Summary

Gender differences in school performance have ever-larger consequences for education later in life. The Health Gap project explores causes of differences in school performance and the increasing gender difference in educational attainment, as well as the health consequences that follow.

Educational attainment has increased over many years, and since 1980, Norway has seen the development of an increasing gap between men and women. In most OECD countries, there are more female than male students who enter university for the first time, and the share that completes higher education is higher among women than men.  Norway, girls out-perform boys in lower secondary school and throughout the educational system. The causes of the increasing gender gap are unknown, the consequences for health are not clear.

Maturity and gender gap in education

During school years, boys and girls undergo pubertal development with implications for physical, cognitive and social development and growth.  There is variation both between and within each sex in the age of puberty, and on average, the onset of puberty occurs at a younger age for girls than boys. At age 15-16, the differences in maturity are sizeable.

At this age, Norwegian youth are finishing lower secondary school and grades achieved at this age are decisive for further life courses. If cognitive development is related to physical development, one would expect that the capacity for learning follows the same maturity pattern. As girls enter puberty earlier than boys, the differences in maturity that this creates could be a substantial contributor to gender differences in school performance. 

 

Objectives

The primary objectives with the Health Gap project are:

  • To understand the health consequences of gender differences in educational attainment and school performance

  • To examine whether the difference in timing of physical maturity between girls and boys is a major explanation of gender gaps in education.

Data and partners

We will use data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), HUNT and the Tromsø study to measure the timing of maturity within and between genders. This data will in turn be linked to registry data on educational attainment, socioeconomic status, and health. The data will give us comparable measures of development for boys and girls, such as growth spurt, genital development, and measures of psychological and neuro-biological development.

 

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health runs the project in close collaboration with national and international partners, namely the Norwegian Institute for Social Research, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Arctic University of Norway and University of Bristol.

 

See the full project description at Cristin for more information about results, researchers, contact information etc.

Project participants

Project leader

Camilla Stoltenberg, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Project participants

Fartein Ask Torvik, Senter for fruktbarhet og helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Sara Cools, Institute for Social Research
Siri Eldevik Håberg, Senter for fruktbarhet og helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Marte Strøm, Institute for Social Research
Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud, Psykisk og fysisk helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Per Magnus, Senter for fruktbarhet og helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Øystein Kravdal, Senter for fruktbarhet og helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Håkon Gjessing, Senter for fruktbarhet og helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Steinar Krokstad, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Sameline Grimsgaard, Universitetet i Tromsø - Norges arktiske universitet, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Marianne Røed, Institute for Social Research
Pål Schøne, Institute for Social Research
Martin Flatø, Senter for fruktbarhet og helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Vegard Fykse Skirbekk, Senter for fruktbarhet og helse, Norwegian Institute of Public Health