Education at a Glance 2017
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Education at a Glance 2017

OECD Indicators

Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators is the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. With more than 125 charts and 145 tables included in the publication and much more data available on the educational database, Education at a Glance 2017 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 2017 edition presents a new focus on fields of study, investigating both trends in enrolment at upper secondary and tertiary level, student mobility, and labour market outcomes of the qualifications obtained in these fields. The publication also introduces for the first time a full chapter dedicated to the Sustainable Development Goals, providing an assessment of where OECD and partner countries stand on their way to meeting the SDG targets. Finally, two new indicators are developed and analysed in the context of participation and progress in education: an indicator on the completion rate of upper secondary students and an indicator on admission processes to higher 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).

The Excel™ spreadsheets used to create the tables and charts in Education at a Glance are available via the StatLinks provided throughout the publication.

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Indicator B2 What proportion of national wealth is spent on educational institutions? You do not have access to this content

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Indicator B2 shows the expenditure on primary to tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP and examines trends in spending since 2005.


Chapter Highlights

  • In 2014, OECD countries spent an average of 5.2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on educational institutions (from primary to tertiary levels), ranging from 3.3% in the Russian Federation to 6.6% in the United Kingdom across OECD and partner countries.

  • Between 2005 and 2014, 21 of the 30 countries for which data are available increased the share of their GDP spent on educational institutions from 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 nine-year period.

  • From the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008 up until 2010, while GDP fell in real terms in 23 of the 41 countries with available data, public expenditure on educational institutions fell in only 9 of the 33 countries with available data. As a result, public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP decreased only in four countries over this period. Between 2010 and 2014, however the increase in public expenditure did not keep pace with the increase in GDP resulting in a 2% decrease in public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP across the OECD.

Figure B2.1. Expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP (2014)
From public and private sources, including undistributed programmes, from primary to tertiary levels of education

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

2. Net of public subsidies attributable for educational institutions.

3. Public does not include international sources.

4. Year of reference 2015.

5. Expenditure on public institutions for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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

Source: OECD/UIS/Eurostat (2017), Table B2.3. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (

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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. However, 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; changes in the number of students are therefore closely related to demographic changes. This is not as much the case in upper secondary and tertiary education, as part of the concerned population has left the education system (see Indicator C1).

In order to account for these issues, this indicator measures expenditure on educational institutions relative to a nation’s wealth. National wealth is based on GDP, while expenditure on education includes spending by governments, enterprises, and individual students and their families. The proportion of education expenditure relative to GDP depends partly on the different preferences of various public and private actors, though it 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.

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  • Primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education accounts for 70% of expenditure on primary to tertiary educational institutions, or 3.6% of GDP, on average across OECD countries. Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom allocate the highest share of their GDP to these levels of education, at 4.5% or more. The Czech Republic, Lithuania and the Russian Federation spend less than 2.7% of their GDP on these levels.

  • Tertiary educational institutions cost 1.6% of GDP in 2014 on average across OECD countries, which represents a moderate increase from 2005, when it was 1.4% on average. The countries which spend the most at this level – Canada, Chile, Korea and the United States – allocate between 2.3% and 2.7% of their GDP to 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, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, over half of the expenditure on tertiary education comes from private sources, accounting for at least 0.5% of GDP.

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