The detrimental effect of economic strain on adolescent behavioral development is well established, but the mechanisms explaining this relationship are less known. This study aims to explore the psychosocial factors operating as pathways connecting economic strain to adolescent antisocial and prosocial behaviors, and examine whether these effects differ by gender. The sample includes 1280 adolescents from middle and high schools in Hebei province, China (Mean age = 15.68 years; 52.6% girls), collected by a multi-stage cluster random sampling. Multi-group structural equation modeling is adopted for data analysis. Social bonds partially mediate the relationship between economic strain and adolescent antisocial behavior, and empathy fully mediates the relationship between economic strain and prosocial behavior after controlling for gender, age, household registration, and subjective socioeconomic status. In terms of gender differences, boys display more antisocial behaviors and less prosocial behaviors compared with girls. Significant gender differences are also found in the effect of economic strain on adolescent social behavior. This study contributes to current knowledge by revealing the psychosocial mechanisms between economic strain and adolescent antisocial/prosocial behaviors. Findings highlight the gender differences in behavioral development among Chinese adolescents. Copyright © 2020 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.