Socioeconomic and gender-based disparities in the motor competence of school-age children

J Sports Sci. 2020 Sep 24:1-10. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2020.1822585. Online ahead of print.


This study examined socioeconomic and gender-based disparities in motor competence (MC) amongst 6-12-year-old children (N = 2654). Validated product-oriented tests assessing agility, balance and coordination were used to measure MC. School-level socioeconomic status (low, middle, high) was used to assess socioeconomic disparities. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) were conducted and odds ratios were calculated for the likelihood of having low MC by gender and socioeconomic status (SES). Girls displayed lower MC than boys for agility and coordination involving object-control (P < 0.001) while boys scored lower than girls for balance and hand-foot coordination (P < 0.001). Children in high SES schools displayed the highest level of MC for agility, balance and coordination (P < 0.001). Compared to the children in high SES schools, odds of having low competence in balance was higher for the children in low SES schools and odds of having low competence in agility and coordination were higher for the children in both low and middle SES schools. Newell’s model of constraints (1986) and Bourdieu’s concept of habitus (1984) were used to consider potential explanations of the observed disparities. To level up inequalities in children’s MC, resources invested in school-based interventions should be proportionate to the school SES.

PMID:32967566 | DOI:10.1080/02640414.2020.1822585