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International Differences in Student Achievement: An Economic Perspective


  • Hendrik Jürges
  • Kerstin Schneider


International comparisons reveal large cross-country differentials in average student performance. Although there is considerable public debate about these differences, their sources are hardly identified. Using school, teacher and student data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the present paper attempts to explain what causes between-country gaps in mathematics test score distributions. Following a three-pronged strategy of micro-level and cross-country regressions as well as bilateral country comparisons, we show how these gaps are explained by differences in school, teacher and student characteristics, or financial resources devoted to the school system. Institutional characteristics, such as competition between schools and the composition of the faculty can also help to understand international differences in student achievement. Copyright Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2004.

Suggested Citation

  • Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2004. "International Differences in Student Achievement: An Economic Perspective," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(3), pages 357-380, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:5:y:2004:i:3:p:357-380

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, March.
    2. Wo[ss]mann, Ludger & West, Martin, 2006. "Class-size effects in school systems around the world: Evidence from between-grade variation in TIMSS," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 695-736, April.
    3. Eide, Eric & Showalter, Mark H., 1998. "The effect of school quality on student performance: A quantile regression approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 345-350, March.
    4. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
    5. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider & Felix Büchel, 2005. "The Effect Of Central Exit Examinations On Student Achievement: Quasi-Experimental Evidence From TIMSS Germany," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(5), pages 1134-1155, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hendrik Jürges & Wolfram F. Richter & Kerstin Schneider, 2005. "Teacher Quality and Incentives: Theoretical and Empirical Effects of Standards on Teacher Quality," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 61(3), pages 298-298, November.
    2. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Stephan Veen, 2006. "Incentives for Schools, Educational Signals and Labour Market Outcomes," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0009, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Jun 2006.
    3. Tia Linda Zuze, 2010. "Human Resource Inputs and Educational Outcomes in Botswana’s Schools: Evidence from SACMEQ and TIMMS," Working Papers 16/2010, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    4. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2007. "What can go wrong will go wrong: Birthday effects and early tracking in the German school system," MEA discussion paper series 07138, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    5. repec:got:cegedp:57 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Birkenfeld, Florian & Hanafy, Shima'a, 2008. "Wie zentral sind die Abschlussprüfungen an deutschen Schulen wirklich?," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-55-08, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    7. Felix Büchel & Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2003. "Die Auswirkungen zentraler Abschlussprüfungen auf die Schulleistung: quasi-experimentelle Befunde aus der deutschen TIMSS-Stichprobe," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 72(2), pages 238-251.
    8. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2010. "Central exit examinations increase performance... but take the fun out of mathematics," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 497-517, March.
    9. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2011. "Why Young Boys Stumble: Early Tracking, Age and Gender Bias in the German School System," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(4), pages 371-394, November.
    10. Entorf, Horst & Lauk, Martina, 2006. "Peer Effects, Social Multipliers and Migrants at School: An International Comparison," IZA Discussion Papers 2182, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Entorf, Horst & Lauk, Martina, 2006. "Peer effects, social multipliers and migration at school: An international comparison," HWWI Research Papers 3-3, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    12. Cordero, José Manuel & Cristobal, Victor & Santín, Daniel, 2017. "Causal Inference on Education Policies: A Survey of Empirical Studies Using PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS," MPRA Paper 76295, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Florian Birkenfeld, 2008. "What makes up a central exit examination?," Working Papers 065, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    14. V. Chandran Govindaraju & Ramesh Rao & Sajid Anwar, 2011. "Economic growth and government spending in Malaysia: a re-examination of Wagner and Keynesian views," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 203-219, August.
    15. Entorf, Horst & Tatsi, Eirini, 2009. "Migrants at School: Educational Inequality and Social Interaction in the UK and Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Stephen Machin & Patrick A. Puhani, 2005. "Special Issue on the Economics of Education - Policies and Empirical Evidence: Editorial," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 6(3), pages 259-267, August.
    17. Florian Birkenfeld & Shima'a Hanafy, 2008. "Was macht eine zentrale Abschlussprüfung aus?," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0033, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).

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