IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Do inequalities in parents' education play an important role in PISA students' mathematics achievement test score disparities?

  • Martins, Lurdes
  • Veiga, Paula

This paper measures and decomposes socioeconomic-related inequality in mathematics achievement in 15 European Union member states. Data is taken from the 2003 wave of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). There is socioeconomic-related inequality in mathematics achievement, favoring the higher socioeconomic groups in each country. There are important differences among countries. The inequality is higher in Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Belgium, and Portugal and is lower in Sweden and Finland. Socioeconomic factors represent between 14.9% and 34.6% of the overall inequality in education. The decomposition exercises add important insights for policy. Despite the differences, EU-15 member states can be categorized into two main groups. The first includes the Nordic countries plus Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Greece, where socioeconomic-related inequality appears to be explained mainly by the students' background characteristics. In Portugal and, to a lesser extent, in Spain the high contribution of socioeconomic background is mainly due to the prevalence of high socioeconomic inequality and socioeconomic concentration of educational resources. The second group includes Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and France. In these countries, the high impact of schools' composition on individual achievement is the main driver of the studied inequality. Differences between countries are also explored.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1016-1033

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:6:p:1016-1033
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Lorraine Dearden & Stephen Machin & H Reed, 1996. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0281, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Levison, D. & Lam, D., 1990. "Declining Inequality In Schooling In Brazil And Its Effects On Inequality In Earning," Papers 618, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  3. Wagstaff, Adam & Van Doorslaer, Eddy & Watanabe, Naoko, 2001. "On decomposing the causes of health sector inequalities with an application to malnutrition inequalities in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2714, The World Bank.
  4. Giorgio Brunello & Daniele Checchi, 2003. "School Quality and Family Background in Italy," Working Papers 2003.10, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  5. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
  6. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental Education And Child's Education: A Natural Experiment," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 42, Royal Economic Society.
  7. Petrakis, P. E. & Stamatakis, D., 2002. "Growth and educational levels: a comparative analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 513-521, October.
  8. Andreas Ammermüller, 2004. "PISA : what makes the difference?," Working Papers of the Research Group Heterogenous Labor 04-07, Research Group Heterogeneous Labor, University of Konstanz/ZEW Mannheim.
  9. Kakwani, Nanak & Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1997. "Socioeconomic inequalities in health: Measurement, computation, and statistical inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 87-103, March.
  10. John Shea, 1997. "Does Parents' Money Matter?," NBER Working Papers 6026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  12. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
  13. Ram, Rati, 1990. "Educational Expansion and Schooling Inequality: International Evidence and Some Implications," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 266-74, May.
  14. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-63, July.
  15. Simona Comi, 2003. "Intergenerational mobility in Europe: evidence from ECHP," Departmental Working Papers 2003-03, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  16. Fertig, Michael & Schmidt, Christoph M, 2002. "The Role of Background Factors for Reading Literacy: Straight National scores in the Pisa 2000 Study," CEPR Discussion Papers 3544, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Eirene P. Mesa, 2007. "Measuring education inequality in the Philippines," Philippine Review of Economics, University of the Philippines School of Economics and Philippine Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 33-70, December.
  18. Eric A. Hanushek, 1979. "Conceptual and Empirical Issues in the Estimation of Educational Production Functions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 351-388.
  19. Basu, Kaushik & Foster, James E, 1998. "On Measuring Literacy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1733-49, November.
  20. Saint-Paul, G. & Verdier, T., 1991. "Education, Democracy and growth," DELTA Working Papers 91-27, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  21. Fuchs, Thomas & Wößmann, Ludger, 2007. "What accounts for international differences in student performance? A re-examination using PISA data," Munich Reprints in Economics 20303, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  22. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
  23. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 12840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. van Doorslaer, Eddy & Wagstaff, Adam & Bleichrodt, Han & Calonge, Samuel & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Gerfin, Michael & Geurts, Jose & Gross, Lorna & Hakkinen, Unto & Leu, Robert E., 1997. "Income-related inequalities in health: some international comparisons," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 93-112, February.
  25. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  26. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
  27. Thomas, Vinod & Wang, Yan & Fan, Xibo, 2001. "Measuring education inequality - Gini coefficients of education," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2525, The World Bank.
  28. Daouli, Joan & Demoussis, Michael & Giannakopoulos, Nicholas, 2010. "Mothers, fathers and daughters: Intergenerational transmission of education in Greece," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 83-93, February.
  29. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  30. Eddy van Doorslaer & Xander Koolman, 2004. "Explaining the differences in income-related health inequalities across European countries," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 609-628.
  31. Ron W Zimmer & Eugenia F Toma, 2000. "Peer effects in private and public schools across countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 75-92.
  32. Adam Wagstaff & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2004. "Overall versus socioeconomic health inequality: a measurement framework and two empirical illustrations," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(3), pages 297-301.
  33. Adam Wagstaff, 2005. "The bounds of the concentration index when the variable of interest is binary, with an application to immunization inequality," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 429-432.
  34. Bishop, J., 1991. "Impact of Academic Competencies on Wages, Unemployment & Job Performance," Papers 91-34, Cornell - Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.
  35. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
  36. Wagstaff, Adam & Paci, Pierella & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1991. "On the measurement of inequalities in health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 545-557, January.
  37. Maasoumi, Esfandiar, 1986. "The Measurement and Decomposition of Multi-dimensional Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 991-97, July.
  38. Arnaud Chevalier & Gauthier Lanot, 2002. "The Relative Effect of Family Characteristics and Financial Situation on Educational Achievement," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 165-181.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:6:p:1016-1033. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.