Puberty development and the math gender gap

We study the association between adolescence development and math performance between boys and girls. We use data from the British National Child Development Study, which contains longitudinal individual-level information on puberty development and educational outcomes. We first document a widening of the gender gap in maths from primary to secondary school in the UK. We then identify a causal impact of puberty on math gender gaps and unveil that pubertal development may contribute to explain the widening of the math gender gap during the adolescence years. We also explore the mechanisms behind these effects by looking at a multitude of family, school, behavioural, and attitudinal variables. Our evidence suggests that self-perceived ability may be behind the effects of pubertal development on adolescent test scores.

Keywords: educational outcomes, gender gap, Pubertal development