The Demographic Cost: Birth Rates and Achievement on International Tests
Author: Yariv Feniger and Yossi Shavit Policy Research

The birth rate in Israel is high compared to other developed countries. As a result, Israeli families are larger and classrooms are more crowded.

Research has shown that these two variables, family size and class size, adversely affect academic achievement. International studies show that pupils’ achievements are lower in Israel than in other developed countries.

An analysis of PISA 2000 and PISA 2006 data shows that the relative size of Israel’s young population which is related to high birth rates explains most of the gap between the average score of Israeli pupils and the international average.

The influence of the size of the young population on pupil test scores is correlated to family size and classroom crowding. Whereas, other studies have sought the explanation for low achievement in features of the education system itself, the current study shows the significant contribution of the broader demographic context to the comparatively low achievements of Israeli pupils.

This appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication State of the Nation Report – Society, Economy and Policy 2010.

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