Education at a Glance 2016
Hide / Show Abstract

Education at a Glance 2016

OECD Indicators

Education at a Glance is the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. It provides key information on the output of educational institutions; the impact of learning across countries; the financial and human resources invested in education; access, participation and progression in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools.

The 2016 edition introduces a new indicator on the completion rate of tertiary students and another one on school leaders. It provides more trend data and analysis on diverse topics, such as: teachers’ salaries; graduation rates; expenditure on education; enrolment rates; young adults who are neither employed nor in education or training; class size; and teaching hours. The publication examines gender imbalance in education and the profile of students who attend, and graduate from, vocational education.

The report covers all 35 OECD countries and a number of partner countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa).

This edition includes more than 125 figures and 145 tables. The Excel™ spreadsheets used to create them are available via the StatLinks provided throughout the publication. More data is available in the OECD Education Statistics database.

Click to Access:
  • PDF
  • READ

Indicator B2 What Proportion of National Wealth is Spent on Education? You do not have access to this content

Click to Access:
  • PDF
  • READ

Hide / Show Abstract

Indicator B2 shows the expenditure on primary to tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP and examines how the economic crisis has affected spending on education.

Also available in French

Chapter Highlights

  • In 2013, OECD countries spent an average of 5.2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on educational institutions from primary to tertiary education, ranging from 3.5% in Luxembourg to 6.7% in the United Kingdom.

  • Between 2005 and 2013, 19 of the 29 countries for which data are available increased the share of GDP spent in primary to tertiary education. The average expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP, however, remained largely stable, increasing by only 0.2 percentage points over the period of eight years.

  • Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008 and up to 2010, GDP decreased, in real terms, in 22 of 44 countries with available data, while public expenditure on educational institutions fell in only 6 of the 31 countries with available data. As a result, public expenditure as a percentage of GDP decreased in three countries during this period. Between 2010 and 2013, GDP increased on average by 4% across the OECD, while public expenditure on education remained largely stable, increasing by less than 1% yearly on average.

Figure B2.1. Public and private expenditure on educational institutions, as a percentage of GDP (2013)
From public1 and private2 sources

Note: Public expenditure figures presented here exclude undistributed programme.

1. Including public subsidies to households attributable to educational institutions, and direct expenditure on educational institutions from international sources.

2. Net of public subsidies attributable for educational institutions.

3. Year of reference 2012.

4. Public does not include international sources.

5. Year of reference 2014.

Countries are ranked in descending order of expenditure from both public and private sources on educational institutions.

Source: OECD. Table B2.3. See Annex 3 for notes (

ContextExpand / Collapse

Countries invest in educational institutions to help foster economic growth, enhance productivity, contribute to personal and social development and reduce social inequality, among other reasons. The proportion of education expenditure relative to GDP depends on the different preferences of various public and private actors. However, expenditure on education largely comes from public budgets and is closely scrutinised by governments. During economic downturns, even core sectors like education can be subject to budget cuts.

The level of expenditure on educational institutions is affected by the size of a country’s school-age population, enrolment rates, level of teachers’ salaries, and the organisation and delivery of instruction. At the primary and lower secondary levels of education (corresponding broadly to the 5-14 year-old population), enrolment rates are close to 100% in most OECD countries, and changes in the number of students are closely related to demographic changes. This is not as much the case in upper secondary and tertiary education, because part of the concerned population has left the education system (see Indicator C1).

This indicator presents a measure of expenditure on educational institutions relative to a nation’s wealth. National wealth is estimated based on GDP, and expenditure on education includes spending by governments, enterprises, and individual students and their families.

Other findingsExpand / Collapse

  • Primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education accounts for 70% of expenditure on primary to tertiary educational institutions, or 3.7% of GDP, on average across OECD countries. New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom spend the most among OECD and partner countries, with 4.7% or more of their GDP devoted to these levels of education, while Indonesia and the Russian Federation spend less than 2.5% of their GDP on these levels of education.

  • Tertiary education accounted for 1.5% of GDP in 2013, on average across OECD countries, which represents an increase, from 1.4% on average in 2005. The countries which spend the most at this level, Chile, Costa Rica, Korea and the United States, spend between 2.3% and 2.6% of their GDP on tertiary institutions.

  • Private expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is highest at the tertiary level, on average across OECD countries. In Australia, Chile, Japan, Korea and the United States, over half of the expenditure on tertiary education comes from private sources, accounting for at least 1% of GDP.

TrendsExpand / Collapse

Between 2008 and 2010, public investment in primary to tertiary education increased by an average of 5% among OECD countries. However, the growth of public expenditure on educational institutions slowed afterwards, and remained stable between 2010 and 2013, on average across OECD countries.

Over the period 2008-10, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, the Russian Federation and the United States cut public expenditure on educational institutions (in real terms), while in all other countries it increased. On average across OECD countries, public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP surged in this period. This is explained by the fact that GDP decreased marginally, by 2% on average, while public expenditure increased by 5% over the two-year period following the economic crisis.

Between 2010 and 2013 all countries, except for Southern European economies like Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, saw an increase in GDP. Increased GDP combined with stable public expenditure on education over the same period led to a decrease of 3% in expenditure as a percentage of GDP. Overall, between 2008 and 2013, average public expenditure as a percentage of GDP increased considerably until 2010, when it decreased slightly, reaching a total five-year positive variation of 4%.

Visit the OECD web site