In the past 50 years, college graduation rates in developed countries have increased nearly 200%, according to Education at a Glance 2011, a recently published report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report shows that while education has improved across the board, it has not improved evenly, with some countries enjoying much greater rates of educational attainment than others. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 developed countries with the most educated populations. The countries with the most highly educated citizens are also some of the wealthiest in the world. The United States, Japan and Canada are on our list and also have among the largest GDPs. Norway and Australia, also featured, have the second and sixth-highest GDPs per capita, respectively. All these countries aggressively invest in education.
The countries that invest the most in education have the most-educated people. All of the best-educated countries, except for the UK, fall within the top 15 OECD countries for greatest spending on tertiary — that is, college or college-equivalent — spending as a percentage of GDP. The U.S. spends the second most and Canada spends the fourth most. Interestingly, public expenditure on educational institutions relative to private spending by these countries is small compared with other countries in the OECD. While the majority of education is still funded with public money, eight of the countries on our list rely the least on [More public from funding 24/7 as a percentage 10 Most of total education in spending. America]
The countries included here have had educated populations for a long time. While they have steadily increased the percentages of their populations with postsecondary educations, the increases are modest compared to developing countries. The U.S., Canada and Japan have had tertiary educational attainment above 30% since at least 1997. Poland, a recently developed country that is not on our list, had a tertiary educational rate of 10% in 1997. As of These 2009, are the that 10 rate most had educated grown countries in to the 21%. world.
10. > > > > GDP Pop. Pct. Avg. annual per change population growth capita: (2000 – with postsecondary rate (1999 – 2009): $36,585 2009): education: 1.8% (14th 3.15% (10th (3rd
Finland 37% lowest) highest) lowest)
Finland is a small country relative to the other OECD members. The share of its adult population with some sort of postsecondary education, however, is rather large. This select group is reaching the end of its expansion. From 1999 to 2009, the number of collegeeducated adults increased only 1.8% annually — the third-smallest amount among all OECD countries. Finland is also one of only two countries, the other being Korea, in which the fields of social sciences, business and law are not the most popular among students. In Finland, new entrants are most likely to study engineering, manufacturing and construction. 9. > > > > GDP Pop. Pct. Avg. annual per change population growth capita: (2000 – with postsecondary rate (1999 – 2009): $40,719 2009): 14.63% education: 3.3% (6th (3rd (11th Australia 37% lowest) highest) highest)
Australia’s population grew 14.63% between 2000 and 2009. This is the third-largest increase among OECD countries. Its tertiary-educated adult population is increasing at the much less impressive annual rate of 3.3%. Australia also spends the sixth-least amount in public funds on education as a percentage of all expenditures. The country also draws large numbers [More 8. > > Pct. Avg. annual population growth from 24/7 Wall of St.: Ten Cities international Crushed by the Global students. Recession] Kingdom education: 4.0% (9th 37% highest) – 2009):
United with postsecondary rate (1999
> GDP > Pop.
capita: (2000 –
(16th 3.47% (13th
Unlike most of the countries with the highest percentage of educated adults, the UK’s educated group increased measurably — more than 4% between 1999 and 2009. Its entire population only grew 3.5% between 2000 and 2009. One aspect that the UK does share with a number of other countries on this list is relatively low public expenditure on education institutions as a percentage of all educational spending. As of 2008, 69.5% of spending came from public sources — the fourth-smallest amount among OECD countries. 7. > > > GDP > Pop. Pct. Avg. annual per change population growth capita: (2000 – with postsecondary rate (1999 $56,617 2009): 7.52% – education: 2009): (2nd (14th Norway 37% N/A highest) highest)
Norway has the third-greatest expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP, at 7.3%. Roughly 23% of that is spent on tertiary education. In Norway, more than 60% of all tertiary graduates were in a bachelor’s program, well more than the U.S., which is close to the OECD average of 45%. The country is one of the wealthiest in the world. GDP per 6. > > > [More > GDP Pop. from Pct. Avg. annual per change 24/7 population growth capita: (2000 Wall – St.: The capita is $56,617, second only South with postsecondary rate (1999 – 2009): $29,101 2009): Worst 3.70% Product education: 5.3% (13th (14th Flops of (5th to Luxembourg in the OECD. Korea 39% highest) lowest) lowest) 2011]
Korea is another standout country for its recent increase in the percentage of its population that has a tertiary education. Graduates increased 5.3% between 1999 and 2009, the fifthhighest amongOECD countries. Like the UK, this rate is greater than the country’s recent
population growth. Korea is also one of only two countries — the other being Finland — in which the most popular fields of study are not social sciences, business and law. In Korea, new students choose to study education, humanities and arts at the greatest rates. Only 59.6% of expenditures on educational institutions come from public funds — the secondlowest 5. > > > > GDP Pop. Pct. Avg. annual per change population growth capita: (2000 – New with postsecondary rate (1999 – 2009): $29,871 2009): education: 3.5% (14th 11.88% (8th (14th rate. Zealand 40% lowest) lowest) largest)
New Zealand is not a particularly wealthy country. GDP per capita is less than $30,000, and is the 14th lowest in the OECD. However, 40% of the population engages in tertiary education, the fifth-highest rate in the world. The country actually has a rapidly growing population, increasing 11.88% between 2000 and 2009. This was the eighth-largest increase in the OECD. Part of the reason for the high rate of tertiary graduates is the high output from secondary schools. More than 90% of residents graduate from secondary school. 4. > > > > GDP Pop. Pct. Avg. annual per change population growth capita: (2000 – United with postsecondary rate (1999 – 2009): $46,588 2009): 8.68% education: 1.4% (4th (12th (the States 41% lowest) highest) highest)
The U.S. experienced a fairly large growth in population from 2000 to 2009. During the period, the population increased 8.68% — the 12th highest among OECD countries. Meanwhile, the rate at which the share of the population with a tertiary education is growing has slowed to an annual rate of 1.4% — the lowest among the 34 OECD countries. Just 71% of funding for educational institutions in the country comes from public funds, placing the U.S. sixth-lowest in this measure. Among OECD countries, the largest share of adults with a tertiary education live in the United States — 25.8%.
3. > > > > GDP Pop. Pct. Avg. annual per change population growth capita: (2000 – with postsecondary rate (1999 – 2009): $33,751 2009): education: 3.2% (17th 0.46% (6th (10th
Japan 44% lowest) lowest) lowest)
In Japan, 44% of the adult population has some form of tertiary education. The U.S. by comparison has a rate of 41%. Japan’s population increased just 0.46% between 2000 and 2009, the sixth-slowest growth rate in the OECD, and the slowest among our list of 10. Japan is tied with Finland for the third-highest upper-secondary graduation rate in the world, at 95%. It has the third-highest tertiary graduation rate in the world, but only spends the equivalent of 1.5% of GDP on tertiary education — the 17th lowest rate in the OECD. [Also 2. > > > GDP > Pop. Pct. Avg. annual per change population growth capita: (2000 – with postsecondary rate (1999 $28,596 2009): 19.02% – education: 2009): (12th (the see: College Majors that are Popular] Israel 45% N/A lowest) highest)
Although there is no data on the percentage of Israeli citizens with postsecondary education dating back to 1999, the numbers going back to 2002 show that growth is slowing dramatically compared to other countries. In fact, in 2006, 46% of adults ages 25 to 64 had a tertiary education. In 2007 this number fell to 44%. Only 78% of funds spent on educational institutions in Israel are public funds. The country is also only one of three — the other two being Ireland and Sweden — where expenditure on educational institutions as a proportion of GDP decreased from 2000 to 2008. Israel also had the largest increase in overall 1. > > Pct. Avg. annual population growth with postsecondary rate (1999 – 2009): education: 2.3% (5th population, approximately 19% from 2000 to 2009. Canada 50% lowest)
> GDP > Pop.
capita: (2000 –
$39,070 2009): 9.89%
In Canada, 50% of the adult population has completed tertiary education, easily the highest rate in the OECD. Each year, public and private expenditure on education amount to 2.5% of GDP, the fourth-highest rate in the world. Tertiary education spending accounts for 41% of total education spending in the country. In the U.S., the proportion is closer to 37%. In Israel, the rate is 22%. In Canada, nearly 25% of students have an immigrant background.