Education at a Glance

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

1999-1487 (online)
1563-051X (print)
Hide / Show Abstract

OECD's annual Education at a Glance looks at who participates in education, what is spent on it, how education systems operate and the results achieved. The latter includes indicators on a wide range of outcomes, from comparisons of students’ performance in key subject areas to the impact of education on earnings and on adults’ chances of employment. This book includes StatLinks, urls linking to Excel® spreadsheets containing the background data.

Also available in French, German, Spanish
Education at a Glance 2010

Education at a Glance 2010

OECD Indicators You or your institution have access to this content

Click to Access:
  • PDF
  • READ
07 Sep 2010
9789264075665 (PDF) ;9789264055988(print)

Hide / Show Abstract

Across OECD countries, governments are seeking policies to make education more effective while searching for additional resources to meet the increasing demand for education.

The 2010 edition of Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators enables countries to see themselves in the light of other countries’ performance. It provides a rich, comparable and up-to-date array of indicators on systems and represents the consensus of professional thinking on how to measure the current state of education internationally.

The indicators show who participates in education, how much is spent on it and how education systems operate. They also illustrate a wide range of educational outcomes, comparing, for example, student performance in key subject areas and the impact of education on earnings and on adults’ chances of employment.

New material in this edition includes:

  • indicators on school choice and the parent voice in education;
  • an indicator on the long-term economic impact of improved learning outcomes;
  • an indicator benchmarking labour costs by educational levels across OECD countries;
  • a review of trends in educational attainment;
  • an update on the human and financial resources invested in education;
  • an indicator comparing salaries of teachers to earnings of workers with tertiary education;
  • a review of adult participation in education and training.
loader image

Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Table of Contents

  • Mark Click to Access
  • Foreword
    Governments are paying increasing attention to international comparisons as they search for effective policies that enhance individuals’ social and economic prospects, provide incentives for greater efficiency in schooling, and help to mobilise resources to meet rising demands. As part of its response, the OECD Directorate for Education devotes a major effort to the development and analysis of the quantitative, internationally comparable indicators that it publishes annually in Education at a Glance. These indicators enable educational policy makers and practitioners alike to see their education systems in the light of other countries’ performances and, together with OECD’s country policy reviews, are designed to support and review the efforts that governments are making towards policy reform.
  • Investing in the future
    In the wake of the global economic crisis, most OECD countries face the twin challenges of making public finances sustainable while building the foundations for continued long-run economic growth. Education is a large item of public expenditure in most countries. At the same time, it is also an essential investment for developing the long-run growth potential of countries and for responding to the fundamental changes in technology and demographics that are re-shaping labour markets.
  • Introduction: the Indicators and their Framework
    Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2010 provides a rich, comparable and up-to-date array of indicators that reflect a consensus among professionals on how to measure the current state of education internationally. The indicators provide information on the human and financial resources invested in education, on how education and learning systems operate and evolve, and on the returns to educational investments. The indicators are organised thematically, and each is accompanied by information on the policy context and the interpretation of the data.
  • Reader's Guide
    Although a lack of data still limits the scope of the indicators in many countries, the coverage extends, in principle, to the entire national education system (within the national territory) regardless of the ownership or sponsorship of the institutions concerned and regardless of education delivery mechanisms.
  • Add to Marked List
  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The Output of Educational Institutions and the Impact of Learning

    • Mark Click to Access
    • To what level have adults studied ?
      This indicator profiles the educational attainment of the adult population as captured through formal educational qualifications. As such, it provides a proxy for the knowledge and skills available to national economies and societies. To gauge the evolution of available skills, trend data on growth in the number of people with different levels of educational attainment are part of the analysis.
    • How many students finish secondary education and access tertiary education ?
      Rising knowledge demands in OECD countries have made qualifications at the upper secondary level the minimum credential for successful labour market entry. This indicator presents the current upper secondary graduate output of education systems, i.e. the estimated percentage of an age cohort that will follow and successfully complete upper secondary programmes. It also shows the percentage of a youth cohort that will enter different types of tertiary education during their lifetime and the impact of international students.
    • How many students finish tertiary education ?
      Tertiary education covers a wide range of programmes and serves overall as an indicator of countries’ production of advanced and specialised competencies. A traditional university degree is associated with completion of tertiary-type A courses; tertiary-type B generally refers to shorter and often vocationally oriented courses. This indicator shows the current tertiary graduate output of education systems, i.e. the percentage of the population in the typical age cohort for tertiary education that successfully completes tertiary programmes, as well as the evolution of the sector since 1995.
    • How many students complete tertiary education ?
      This indicator shows current tertiary completion rates in education systems, i.e. the percentage of students who follow and graduate from tertiary programmes. Although non-completion is not necessarily an indicator of failure from the individual student’s perspective, high dropout rates may indicate that the education system is not meeting students’ needs.
    • How many adults participate in education and learning ?
      This indicator examines the participation of the 25-64 year-old population in formal and/or non-formal education and investment in non-formal education. It shows the extent to which adults seek information on learning possibilities and its relation to participation rates. Other determinants of participation in education and learning examined are previous educational attainment, age and gender, labour force status, and characteristics of the workplace.
    • How does educational attainment affect participation in the labour market ?
      This indicator examines the relation between educational attainment and labour force status. Gender differences are given particular focus. Taken together, information on employment and unemployment provides a complete picture of labour market participation, while trend data on labour force status over time provide a good basis for assessing variation in employment and unemployment risks among groups with different levels of educational attainment.
    • what are the economic benefits of education ?
      This indicator examines the relative earnings of workers with different educational attainment in 28 OECD countries and the partner countries Brazil, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia. Differences in pre-tax earnings among educational groups give a good indication of supply of and demand for education. Combined with data on earnings over time, these differences give a strong signal about the alignment of education systems with labour market demands.
    • What are the incentives to invest in education?
      This indicator examines incentives to invest in education by estimating the value of education in 20 OECD countries. The financial returns to education are calculated for investments undertaken as a part of initial education and account for the main costs and benefits associated with this investment decision. The discounted values of private and public investments in education are given for upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary and tertiary education.
    • What are the social outcomes of education?
      This indicator examines the relationship between educational attainment and social well-being for 24 OECD countries and 3 partner countries. It focuses on three outcomes, self-assessed health, political interest and interpersonal trust, and evaluates how they vary across levels of educational attainment, with and without adjustments made for individual differences in gender, age and income.
    • What are the economic links with education?
      Education has a large influence on how economies evolve. The skills of their workforce are a major sustainable advantage countries can leverage in the long term. Education thus plays a key role in shaping current and future economic growth. This indicator takes a closer look at links between education and economic outcomes. As a first step, labour costs by skill (educational) levels in OECD countries are examined.
    • Add to Marked List
  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Financial and Human Resources Invested In Education

    • Mark Click to Access
    • How much is spent per student?
      This indicator provides an assessment of the investment in each student. Expenditure by educational institutions per student is largely influenced by teachers’ salaries (see Indicators B6 and D3), pension systems, instructional and teaching hours (see Indicators B7, D1 and D4), the cost of teaching materials and facilities, the programme provided (e.g. general or vocational), and the number of students enrolled in the education system (see Indicator C1). Policies to attract new teachers or to reduce average class size or change staffing patterns (see Indicator D2) have also contributed to changes in expenditure by educational institutions per student over time. Ancillary and R&D services can also influence the level of expenditure by educational institutions per student.
    • What proportion of national wealth is spent on education?
      Expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP illustrates the priorities a country places on education in relation to its overall allocation of resources. Tuition fees and investment in education from private entities other than households (see Indicator B5) have a large impact on differences in the overall amount of financial resources that OECD and partner countries devote to their education systems, especially at the tertiary level.
    • How much public and private investment is there in education?
      This indicator examines the proportion of public and private funding allocated to educational institutions at each level. It also breaks down private funding by households and expenditures by private entities other than households. It sheds some light on the widely debated issue of how the financing of educational institutions should be shared between public and private entities, particularly at the tertiary level. Finally, it looks at public funding relative to the size of education systems and at how public funding is allocated between public and private institutions.
    • What is the total public spending on education?
      Public expenditure on education as a percentage of total public expenditure indicates the priority placed on education relative to other public areas of investment, such as health care, social security, defence and security. It provides an important context for other indicators on education expenditure, particularly for Indicator B3 (the public and private shares of educational expenditure), and is the quantification of an important policy lever.
    • How much do tertiary students pay and what public subsidies do they receive?
      This indicator examines the relationships between annual tuition fees charged by tertiary institutions, direct and indirect public spending on educational institutions, and public subsidies to households for student living costs. It looks at whether financial subsidies for households are provided in the form of grants or loans and raises related questions. Are scholarships/grants and loans more common in countries with higher tuition fees charged by tertiary institutions? Are loans an effective means of increasing the efficiency of financial resources invested in education and of shifting some of the cost of education to the beneficiaries of educational investment? Are student loans less commonly used than grants to encourage low-income students to pursue their education?
    • On what resources and services is education funding spent?
      This indicator compares OECD countries with respect to the division of spending between current and capital expenditure and the distribution of current expenditure. It is affected by teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3), pension systems, the age distribution of teachers, the size of the non-teaching staff employed in education (see Indicator D2) and the degree to which expanded enrolments require the construction of new buildings. It also compares how OECD countries’ spending is distributed among these different functions of educational institutions.
    • Which factors influence the level of expenditure?
      This indicator examines the policy choices countries make when investing their resources in primary and secondary education, such as trade-offs between the hours that students spend in the classroom, the number of teaching hours of teachers, class sizes (proxy measure) and teachers’ salaries. First, differences in the combination of factors that influence the salary cost per student are analysed at the primary, lower secondary and upper secondary levels of education. Next, to exclude differences in the countries’ level of wealth, salary cost per student is compared to GDP per capita. This indicator also presents the main reforms implemented by countries during the last decade regarding these four factors.
    • Add to Marked List
  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Access to Education, Participation and Progression

    • Mark Click to Access
    • Who participates in education?
      This indicator examines access to education and its evolution using information on enrolment rates and trends from 1995 to 2008. It also shows patterns of participation in early childhood education and at the secondary and tertiary levels of education, and the comparative roles played by public and private providers of education across OECD and partner countries.
    • Who studies abroad and where?
      The proportion of international students in tertiary enrolments provides a good indication of the magnitude of student mobility in OECD and partner countries. This indicator shows global trends and highlights the main destinations of international students and trends in market shares of the international student pool. It discusses some of the factors underlying students’ choices of a country in which to study, and presents the distribution of international students by country and region of origin, type of programme, and field of study. The distribution of students enrolled outside of their country of citizenship by destination is also examined, along with the immigration implications for host countries.
    • How successful are students in moving from education to work?
      This indicator shows the number of years young adults are expected to spend in education and how many continue their education beyond compulsory schooling. Once students have completed their initial education, they may face difficulties entering the labour market. To better understand the interactions between school and work, this indicator analyses unemployment, non-employment, temporary and part-time work, as well as educational attainment and occupation matches.
    • Add to Marked List
  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The Learning Environment and Organisation of Schools

    • Mark Click to Access
    • How much time do students spend in the classroom?
      This indicator examines the amount of instruction time students are expected to receive between the ages of 7 and 15. It also discusses how instruction time is allocated to different curriculum areas.
    • What is the student-teacher ratio and how big are classes?
      This indicator examines the number of students per class at the primary and lower secondary levels, the ratio of students to teaching staff at all levels, including a breakdown by type of institutions. Class size and student-teacher ratios are muchdiscussed aspects of the education students receive and – along with students’ total instruction time (see Indicator D1), teachers’ average working time (see Indicator D4) and the division of teachers’ time between teaching and other duties – are among the determinants of the size of countries’ teaching force. Class size and the ratio of students to teaching staff, together with teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3) and the age distribution of teachers (see Indicator D7 available on line), also have a considerable impact on the level of current expenditure on education (see Indicator B6).
    • How much are teachers paid?
      This indicator shows the starting, mid-career and maximum statutory salaries of teachers in public primary and secondary education, various additional payments and incentive schemes used to reward teachers, and relative teachers’ salaries. Together with teachers’ working and teaching time (see Indicator D4), this indicator presents some key measures of teachers’ working lives. Differences in teachers’ salaries, along with other factors such as student-to-staff ratios (see Indicator D2), provide some explanation of the differences in expenditure per student (see Indicators B1 and B7).
    • How much time do teachers spend teaching?
      This indicator focuses on the statutory working time and statutory teaching time of teachers at different levels of education. Although working time and teaching time only partly determine teachers’ actual workload, they do give valuable insight into differences in what is demanded of teachers in different countries. Together with teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3) and average class size (see Indicator D2), this indicator presents some key measures of the working lives of teachers.
    • What school choices are available and what measures do countries use to promote or restrict school choice?
      This indicator examines the available scope and nature of school choice. It also covers the means used by countries either to promote or restrict the choice of schools at the primary and lower secondary levels. Although there have been earlier comparisons of school choice systems based on a handful of country case studies, this is the first international study of school choice that collects and analyses data from comparable variables.
    • How can parents influence the education of their children?
      This indicator considers whether parents have opportunities to influence the education of children in schools and, if so, how they may do so. It focuses on three formal types of parent voice: i) participation in governance, ii) involvement in advising (non-governance), and iii) complaints or grievances. Although there have been earlier studies that have examined some specific forms of parent involvement, this is the first international study to look at the formal structures and regulations related to parent voice.
    • Add to Marked List
Visit the OECD web site