Migration Policy Can Boost PISA Results: Findings from a Natural Experiment

21 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2012

See all articles by Alejandra Cattaneo

Alejandra Cattaneo

University of Zurich

Stefan C. Wolter

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF); University of Bern - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Switzerland radically changed its migration policy in the mid-nineties from a "non-qualified only" policy to one that favors the immigration of highly qualified migrants. To analyze the impact of this change on the schooling outcomes of migrants, this paper compares the PISA (OECD Programme for International Student Assessment) results from 2000, which were not yet affected by the change in the migration policy, with the PISA 2009 test. Using a Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition analysis, we find that almost 70% of the 43-point increase (more than one standardized school year) in the PISA scores of first-generation immigrant students in an environment with stagnant Swiss PISA results was due to changes in the individual background characteristics of the new immigrants (direct effect) and improved school composition (lower shares of students who did not speak the testing languages as an indirect effect). The indirect effects also indicate that internationally comparative analyses should more fully consider differences in national migration policies when assessing the success of migrant integration.

Keywords: Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition, migration, natural experiment, PISA

JEL Classification: I21, I24, J15

Suggested Citation

Cattaneo, Alejandra and Wolter, Stefan C., Migration Policy Can Boost PISA Results: Findings from a Natural Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6300. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1999328

Alejandra Cattaneo (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Stefan C. Wolter

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF) ( email )

CH - 5000 Aarau
Switzerland
+41 62 835 23 90 (Phone)
+41 62 835 23 99 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.skbf-csre.ch

University of Bern - Department of Economics ( email )

Gesellschaftstrasse 49
Bern, CH-3012
Switzerland
+41 31 631 40 95 (Phone)
+41 31 631 39 92 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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