The paper aims at comparing Italy with four OECD countries in order to investigate the determinants of educational achievement which lead countries with similarities in educational systems to reach different outcomes. Using OECD PISA data, a common educational production function is estimated by survey regression; also decomposition analysis is carried out in order 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. Main results highlight the significant disadvantage in terms of endowment of Italian students which is partly balanced out by the returns of Italian educational process.
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