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.

English Also available in: French

What Are the Earnings Advantages from Education?

  • Rising levels of tertiary attainment seem not to have led to an “inflation” eroding the labour-market value of qualifications. However, tertiary graduates have the highest relative earnings advantage when they live in a country with low tertiary attainment rates.
  • On average, compared to those with an upper secondary education, tertiary-educated adults earn about 1.6 times more than their peers, while individuals without an upper secondary education earn 24% less.
  • Higher educational attainment and literacy skills increase earnings, but the advantages are more pronounced for men than for women and seem to increase as adults get older.
  • The crisis has widened the wage gap between less educated and highly educated individuals: across OECD countries, the average difference in earnings from employment between these two groups increased from 75 percentage points in 2008 to 79 percentage points in 2012.
  • Qualifications are more rewarded than skills: attaining a higher level of education has a stronger positive impact on earnings than better literacy proficiency.

English Also available in: French

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