Efficiency in education: a review of literature and a way forward

Kristof De Witte*, Laura Lopez-Torres

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper provides an extensive overview of the literature on efficiency in education. It summarizes the earlier applied inputs, outputs and contextual variables, as well as the used data sources of papers in the field of efficiency in education. Moreover, it reviews the papers on education that applied methodologies as data envelopment analysis, malmquist index, bootstrapping, robust frontiers, metafrontier or stochastic frontier analysis. Based on the insights of the literature review, a second part of the paper provides some ways forward. It attempts to establish a link between the parametric ‘economics of education’ literature and the (semi-parametric) ‘efficiency in education literature’. We point to the similarities between matching and conditional efficiency; difference-in-differences and metafrontiers; and quantile regressions and partial frontiers. The paper concludes with some practical directions for prospective researchers in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-363
JournalJournal of the Operational Research Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • efficiency
  • education
  • review
  • education economics
  • operational research


Dive into the research topics of 'Efficiency in education: a review of literature and a way forward'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this