The Effects of Psychosocial Risk and Gender on School Attainment in Guatemala

This study examines the effects of gender and early biological, social, and psychological risk factors on secondary school grade attainment in rural Guatemalan adolescents. The present sample comprised 333 adolescents (156 females and 177 males) with available data on growth, health, and cognitive indices as well as family histories measured during infancy and the preschool period. Results indicate that adolescents exposed to increasing numbers of early risk factors were less likely to seek education beyond primary school. Further, while males and females had experienced similar numbers of risks during early childhood, significantly fewer girls pursued education beyond the primary level, and increased risk was associated with decreased likelihood of secondary education for girls but not for boys. These findings are interpreted in light of the importance of formal education for the economic and social welfare of females in developing countries and for the health and well-being of their children.

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