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Do Differences in Schools' Instruction Time Explain International Achievement Gaps? Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries


  • Victor Lavy


The time that children spend in school varies across countries. Do these differences explain international gaps in pupils' academic achievements? In this paper, I estimate the effects of instructional time on students' achievement using PISA 2006 data, which includes data samples from over 50 countries. I find that instructional time has a positive and significant effect on test scores, and that the effect is much lower in developing countries. Evidence also suggests that the productivity of instructional time is higher in countries which implemented school accountability measures or that gave schools autonomy in budgetary decisions and in hiring/firing teachers.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Lavy, 2010. "Do Differences in Schools' Instruction Time Explain International Achievement Gaps? Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 16227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16227
    Note: CH ED LS

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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. Kane, Thomas J. & Rockoff, Jonah E. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2008. "What does certification tell us about teacher effectiveness? Evidence from New York City," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 615-631, December.
    3. Eric A. Hanushek, 2003. "The Failure of Input-Based Schooling Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 64-98, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Manuel Guío & Álvaro Choi, 2013. "Evolution of the school failure risk during the 2000 decade in Spain: analysis of Pisa results with a two-level logistic model," Working Papers 2013/17, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    2. Torberg Falch & Marte Rønning, 2011. "Homework assignment and student achievement in OECD countries," Working Paper Series 11411, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
    3. Shaun M. Dougherty, 2015. "Bridging the Discontinuity in Adolescent Literacy? Mixed Evidence from a Middle Grades Intervention," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 10(2), pages 157-192, March.
    4. Meyer, Erik & Van Klaveren, Chris, 2013. "The effectiveness of extended day programs: Evidence from a randomized field experiment in the Netherlands," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-11.
    5. Philipp Mandel & Bernd Süssmuth, 2011. "Total Instructional Time Exposure and Student Achievement: An Extreme Bounds Analysis Based on German State-Level Variation," CESifo Working Paper Series 3580, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Joshua Goodman, 2014. "Flaking Out: Student Absences and Snow Days as Disruptions of Instructional Time," Working Paper 141961, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    7. Battistin, Erich & Meroni, Elena Claudia, 2016. "Should we increase instruction time in low achieving schools? Evidence from Southern Italy," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 39-56.

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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy


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