Norwegian version of this page
Ongoing project

Health-Gap: Health, Maturity, and the Gender Gap in Education

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.

Project period 2018 - 2022
Project employer The Research Council of Norway
Project nr. 10242
Project leader Camilla Stoltenberg
Two boys and a girl studying in the library

Photo: Colourbox

Project Backround

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. 


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.


ParticipantDegree PhoneE-mail
Sara Cools Research Professor PhD +47 984 96 736
Marianne Røed Research Professor Dr. polit. +47 480 39 594
Pål Schøne Research Director, Work and Welfare PhD +47 986 22 125
Marte Strøm Senior Research Fellow PhD +47 408 85 333
Camilla Stoltenberg
Martin Flatø
Fartein Torvik
Per Magnus
Tags: Working Life, Gender Equality
Published Mar. 23, 2020 1:27 PM - Last modified Mar. 23, 2020 2:11 PM