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Education Indicators in Focus

Education Indicators in Focus is a recurring series of briefs that highlight specific indicators in OECD’s Education at a Glance that are of particular interest to policy makers and practitioners. They provide a detailed look into current issues in pre-primary, primary and secondary education, higher education, and adult outcomes from a global perspective, and contain an engaging mix of text, tables and charts that describe the international context of the most pressing questions in education policy and practice.

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How Pronounced Is Income Inequality Around the World - And How Can Education Help Reduce It?

Over the past three decades, the income gap between the rich and the poor has widened across most OECD countries. As the global economic crisis and the changing needs of the worldwide labour market threaten to increase inequality further, how can education help reduce it?

As the fourth issue of the OECD’s new brief series Education Indicators in Focus describes, education policies that focus on equity may be one of the strongest tools countries have to address this growing concern. By focusing on equal opportunities for students to achieve strong academic outcomes, countries can provide a pathway for more students to continue on to higher levels of education and eventually secure good jobs – two outcomes that are likely to lessen income inequality in the future.

Four top performers on the 2009 PISA assessment – Canada, Finland, Japan, and Korea – show the potential of this approach. All of these countries have education systems that put a strong focus on equity, whether through equitable resource allocation policies, teacher policies, or sustained efforts to engage disadvantaged student populations. And all of them have high proportions of students who performed better than would be expected on PISA, given their socio-economic background – a strong start towards future outcomes that can lead to less income inequality.

Be sure to check your inbox for future issues of Education Indicators in Focus, which each month will provide analysis and policy insights into the most pressing issues in education today, using evidence from Education at a Glance, the flagship publication of the OECD’s Indicators of Education Systems (INES) programme.

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