The paper aims at comparing Italy with four OECD countries in order to investigate the determinants of educational achievement and the dynamics which lead countries with similarities in eudcational systems to reach different outcomes. Using OECD PISA data (2009), a common educational production function is estimated and decomposition analyses are carried out to evaluate how much of the score gaps is accounted for by the dissimilar endowments in characteristics rather than the different capability of national educational systems of transforming these characteristics into skills. The study confirms the lower equity and the higher social clustering of Italian school system which make more difficult for disadvantaged students to move up the social ladder.
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