Boys Lagging Behind: Unpacking Gender Differences in Academic Achievement Across East Africa

Julie Buhl-Wiggers, Sam Jones, Rebecca Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We estimate the current magnitude of gender gaps in literacy and numeracy in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, using large-scale nationally representative data of children ages 6–16. Using a household fixed effects approach, we document that girls outperform boys in all three countries; in numeracy by 0.03 SDs (Uganda) to 0.05 SDs (Kenya and Tanzania) and literacy by 0.06 SDs (Uganda and Tanzania) to 0.09 SDs (Kenya). However, the gender gap in achievement is highly geographically clustered, reversing in sign in some districts. In highlighting the heterogeneity of gender disparities in academic performance in these three countries in East Africa, this study show that systematic female disadvantage in schooling is no longer the norm.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102382
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Test scores
  • Education
  • Gender gap
  • East Africa

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