Asia Pacific Education Review

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 463–474

Decomposing achievement gaps among OECD countries


DOI: 10.1007/s12564-011-9151-3

Cite this article as:
Zhang, L. & Lee, K.A. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. (2011) 12: 463. doi:10.1007/s12564-011-9151-3


In this study, we use decomposition methods on PISA 2006 data to compare student academic performance across OECD countries. We first establish an empirical model to explain the variation in academic performance across individuals, and then use the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition method to decompose the achievement gap between each of the OECD countries and the OECD average. Results indicate that the explained portion of the achievement gap varies across countries. In some countries, our empirical models are able to account for almost all the achievement gap, while unexplained country-specific effects still dominate in other countries. Finally, we use two Asian countries, Japan and Korea, to demonstrate how to identify major factors that have contributed to the observed achievement gap across countries.


Academic performanceInternational comparisonDecomposition

Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education Policy StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA