IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Poor Background or Low Returns? Why Immigrant Students in Germany Perform so Poorly in PISA


  • Ammermüller, Andreas


Student performance of Germans and immigrants differed greatly in the 2000 PISA study. This paper analyses why the two groups of students performed so differently by estimating educational production functions, using an extension study with imputed data. The difference in the test scores is assigned to different effects, using a Juhn-Murphy-Pierce decomposition method. The analysis shows that German students have on average more favorable characteristics and experience slightly higher returns to these characteristics in terms of test scores than immigrant students. The later enrolment of immigrant students and preferences of parents as reflected by the number of books and language spoken at home are more important than parents? education or the family setting for explaining the test score gap. Overall, the variation in test scores can be explained better by the observable characteristics for immigrant than for German students.

Suggested Citation

  • Ammermüller, Andreas, 2005. "Poor Background or Low Returns? Why Immigrant Students in Germany Perform so Poorly in PISA," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-18, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:2908

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ammermuller, Andreas & Heijke, Hans & Wo[ss]mann, Ludger, 2005. "Schooling quality in Eastern Europe: Educational production during transition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 579-599, October.
    2. Ira N. Gang & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2000. "Is Child like Parent? Educational Attainment and Ethnic Origin," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 550-569.
    3. Lauer, Charlotte, 2000. "Gender wage gap in West Germany: how far do gender differences in human capital matter?," ZEW Discussion Papers 00-07, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Ammermüller, Andreas, 2004. "PISA: What Makes the Difference? Explaining the Gap in PISA Test Scores Between Finland and Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-04, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    5. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1992. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Learning from International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 533-538, May.
    6. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    7. Hanushek, Eric A. & Luque, Javier A., 2003. "Efficiency and equity in schools around the world," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 481-502, October.
    8. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    9. Frick, Joachim R. & Wagner, Gert G., 2001. "Economic and Social Perspectives of Immigrant Children in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 301, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Nicole Schneeweis, 2006. "How should we organize schooling to further children with migration background?," Economics working papers 2006-20, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    2. Nieto, S. & Ramos, R., 2011. "¿La sobreeducación de los padres afecta al rendimiento académico de sus hijos?," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 11(3).
    3. 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).
    4. Ammermüller, Andreas, 2005. "Educational Opportunities and the Role of Institutions," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-44, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    5. 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).

    More about this item


    Educational production; PISA-E; decomposition; immigration;

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:2908. 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: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.