Empirical Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 2–3, pp 433–464 | Cite as

What accounts for international differences in student performance? A re-examination using PISA data

  • Thomas FuchsEmail author
  • Ludger Wößmann
Original Paper


We use the PISA student-level achievement database to estimate international education production functions. Student characteristics, family backgrounds, home inputs, resources, teachers and institutions are all significantly associated with math, science and reading achievement. Our models account for more than 85% of the between-country performance variation, with roughly 25% accruing to institutional variation. Student performance is higher with external exams and budget formulation, but also with school autonomy in textbook choice, hiring teachers and within-school budget allocations. Autonomy is more positively associated with performance in systems that have external exit exams. Students perform better in privately operated schools, but private funding is not decisive.


Education production function PISA International variation in student performance Institutional effects in schooling 

JEL classification

I28 J24 H52 L33 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ifo Institute for Economic ResearchMunichGermany
  2. 2.Ifo Institute for Economic ResearchUniversity of Munich and CESifoMunichGermany

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