Ensuring inclusive education in all regions (SDG 4)

Capital regions tend to have lower school dropout rates and higher shares of tertiary-educated people than the rest of the country.

In most OECD countries, capital regions concentrate disproportionately large shares of the highly educated population. On average, the population share with tertiary education in capital regions is more than 10 percentage points higher than the national average. The capital region is the place with the highest share of people that completed tertiary education in 26 out of 30 OECD countries with comparable data. In the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the United States, where differences between top and bottom regions within countries are above 30 percentage points, capital regions stand out in terms of educational attainment. In Poland, for example, 56% of the population in the Warsaw region completed tertiary education compared to 34% in Lower Silesia, the second best-performing Polish region. In the Czech Republic and the United States, the capital regions of Prague and the District of Columbia are respectively 20 and 10 percentage points above the second best-performing region in their country (Figure 1.17).

Lifelong learning matters for people’s well-being. It contributes to mental health, subjective life satisfaction, as well as better job opportunities. In the context of the job crisis triggered by COVID-19 (OECD, 2020a), more flexible and short-time training (from formal and non-formal educational systems) will be required to facilitate workers’ reintegration in the labour market and mobility across firms. Yet, lifelong learning – measured as the share of the adult population enrolled in any form of training or learning – is still very low in most OECD regions and significantly unequal within one-third of OECD countries (out of 22 with available data). Within-country differences are largest in Australia, Italy and Switzerland, where the share of lifelong learning is high on average – above 37%. On the other hand, in countries with overall low lifelong learning, regional disparities are the lowest. In half of OECD countries with available data, not a single region has more than 15% of their adult population enrolled in formal or informal training or learning (Figure 1.18).

School dropout and youth inactivity remain important challenges in many Latin American and Southern European regions, especially outside the capital regions. For example, the school dropout rate in Athens, Greece, is 3.3%, around half the national average and 5 times lower than in the North Aegean region – the area with the highest dropout rate in Greece. School dropout rates in Colombia, Mexico and Turkey are highest, on average, but they also show the starkest regional differences among OECD countries. In these three countries, students in the capital regions are much less likely to leave school at an early stage than in other regions – with school dropout rates being more than 10 percentage points below the national average. In terms of youth not in employment, education or training (also known as NEET), four out of the five worst-performing regions in the OECD are located in East and Middle Anatolia in Turkey. In these 4 regions, more than 40% of the 18-24 year-old population are not in any type of formal education or employed (Figure 1.19).

OECD (2020a), OECD Employment Outlook 2020: Worker Security and the COVID-19 Crisis, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/1686c758-en.

OECD (2020b), OECD Regional Statistics (database), OECD, Paris http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/region-data-en.

See country metadata in Annex B.

See territorial grids and regional typology in Annex A.

Figure 1.17: 2018 for COL, MEX and USA; 2017 for AUS, CHL and ISR; 2016 for CAN and RUS; and 2015 for BRA.

Figure 1.18: Population aged 25-64 in formal and/or non-formal training. Last available year was 2018 for COL, ESP, DEU and PRT; 2016 for AUS, EST, ITA, SVK and SWE; 2015 for BEL, CRI, ROU and TUR; and 2012 for KOR.

Figure 1.19 Panel A: Early leavers from education and training. Last available year was 2016 for AUS, CHL and ISR; 2013 for BRA.

Figure 1.19 Panel B: Population not in employment, education or training. Last available year was 2018 for COL, MEX, NZL and USA; 2017 for AUS, CHL, ISR and RUS; and 2013 for BRA.

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