A new GLO Discussion Paper shows that the differences in test scores between big and small cities depend on school characteristics, while the differences between general and vocational schools are mainly explained by family social status.
GLO Discussion Paper No. 905, 2021
Choose the school, choose the performance. New evidence on the determinants of student performance in eight European countries – Download PDF
by Bonacini, Luca & Brunetti, Irene & Gallo, Giovanni
GLO Fellows Luca Bonacini & Giovanni Gallo
This study aims to identify the main determinants of student performance in reading and maths across eight European Union countries (Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Based on student-level data from the OECD’s PISA 2018 survey and by means of the application of efficient algorithms, we highlight that the number of books at home and a variable combining the type and location of their school represent the most important predictors of student performance in all of the analysed countries, while other school characteristics are rarely relevant. Econometric results show that students attending vocational schools perform significantly worse than those in general schools, except in Portugal. Considering only general school students, the differences between big and small cities are not statistically significant, while among students in vocational schools, those in a small city tend to perform better than those in a big city. Through the Gelbach decomposition method, which allows measuring the relative importance of observable characteristics in explaining a gap, we show that the differences in test scores between big and small cities depend on school characteristics, while the differences between general and vocational schools are mainly explained by family social status.
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