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Using the Oaxaca-Blinder Decomposition Technique to Analyze Learning Outcomes Changes over Time: An Application to Indonesia’s Results in PISA Mathematics


  • Barrera-Osorio, F.
  • García-Moreno, V.
  • Patrinos, H.,
  • Porta, E.


The Oaxaca-Blinder technique was originally used in labor economics to decompose earnings gaps and to estimate the level of discrimination. It has been applied since in other social issues, including education, where it can be used to assess how much of a gap is due to differences in characteristics (explained variation) and how much is due to policy or system changes (unexplained variation). We apply the decomposition technique in an effort to analyze the increase in Indonesia’s score in PISA mathematics. Between 2003 and 2006, Indonesia’s score increased by 30 points, or 0.3 of a standard deviation. The test score increase is assessed in relation to family, student, school and institutional characteristics. The gap over time is decomposed into its constituent components based on the estimation of cognitive achievement production functions. The decomposition results suggest that almost the entire test score increase is explained by the returns to characteristics, mostly related to student age. However, we find that the adequate supply of teachers also plays a role in test score changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Barrera-Osorio, F. & García-Moreno, V. & Patrinos, H., & Porta, E., 2011. "Using the Oaxaca-Blinder Decomposition Technique to Analyze Learning Outcomes Changes over Time: An Application to Indonesia’s Results in PISA Mathematics," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 11(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:eaa:eerese:v:11:y2011:i:3_4

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Cattaneo & Stefan Wolter, 2015. "Better migrants, better PISA results: Findings from a natural experiment," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-19, December.
    2. Juan F. Castro, 2015. "Linear decompositions of cognitive achievement gaps a cautionary note and an illustration using peruvian data," Working Papers 15-08, Centro de Investigación, Universidad del Pacífico.
    3. World Bank Group, 2015. "Slovak Republic Skilling Up the Next Generation," World Bank Other Operational Studies 23330, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    PISA; education; test scores; Indonesia;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General


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