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Differences between girls and boys in emerging language skills: Evidence from 10 language communities


Correspondence should be addressed to Associate professor Mårten Eriksson, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, University of Gävle, SE-801 76 Gävle, Sweden (


The present study explored gender differences in emerging language skills in 13,783 European children from 10 non-English language communities. It was based on a synthesis of published data assessed with adapted versions of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) from age 0.08 to 2.06. The results showed that girls are slightly ahead of boys in early communicative gestures, in productive vocabulary, and in combining words. The difference increased with age. Boys were not found to be more variable than girls. Despite extensive variation in language skills between language communities, the difference between girls and boys remained. This suggests that the difference is caused by robust factors that do not change between language communities.