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International comparisons of education outcomes

Question:
How does the United States compare with other countries in labor force outcomes of education?

Response:
In all reporting G-8 countries, adults with a higher level of education tended to earn more than those with a lower level of education. Among U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds whose highest level of educational attainment was lower secondary education or below, 16 percent earned more than the median income in 2008; this percentage was lower than that in any other reporting G-8 country, with percentages ranging from 21 percent in the United Kingdom to 40 percent in Germany. Two percent of U.S. adults with this level of education earned more than two times the median income; the corresponding percentages in the other G-8 countries ranged from 1 percent in the United Kingdom to 7 percent in Italy and Canada. In contrast, 44 percent of U.S. adults with a lower secondary education or below earned at or below half of the median income, which was higher than in any other reporting G-8 country, with percentages ranging from 18 percent in France and Italy to 39 percent in Canada.

Among U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds whose highest level of educational attainment was upper secondary education, 38 percent earned more than the median income in 2008; this percentage was lower than that in any other reporting G-8 country, with percentages ranging from 41 percent in the United Kingdom to 56 percent in Italy. (Only in Italy did more than half of the adults with this level of education earn more than the median income.) Eight percent of U.S. adults with an upper secondary education earned more than two times the median income; the corresponding percentages in the other G-8 countries ranged from 5 percent in Germany and France to 13 percent in Italy. In contrast, 24 percent of U.S. adults with this level of education earned at or below half the median income; in the other G-8 countries, the corresponding percentages ranged from 9 percent in Italy to 29 percent in Japan and Canada.

Among U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds who had completed academic higher education, 69 percent earned more than the median income in 2008; the corresponding percentages in the other G-8 countries ranged from 67 percent in Canada to 76 percent in France. Thirty percent of U.S. adults with this level of education earned more than two times the median income; the corresponding percentages in the other G-8 countries ranged from 27 percent in France and Italy to 35 percent in Japan. In contrast, 12 percent of U.S. adults who had completed academic higher education earned at or below half the median income; the corresponding percentages in the other G-8 countries ranged from 6 percent in France to 17 percent in Canada.


Percentage of the population ages 25 to 64 who earned more than the median income, by highest level of education and country: 2008
Reporting G-8 countries Education level and income
Lower secondary and below Upper secondary education Academic higher education
At or below half of the median income More than two times the median income At or below half of the median income More than two times the median income At or below half of the median income More than two times the median income
Canada1 39.2 6.5 28.8 11.1 17.1 31.2
France 1 17.8 3.0 9.9 5.1 5.7 27.0
Germany 29.8 2.4 24.6 4.5 11.9 29.5
Italy 2 18.4 6.7 9.2 12.6 8.9 27.3
Japan 1 36.0 5.4 28.9 12.4 8.9 34.7
United Kingdom 30.9 1.2 20.3 6.7 6.9 27.9
United States 44.5 2.4 24.1 7.8 12.5 30.1

1 Reference year is 2007, rather than 2008.

2 Reference year is 2006, rather than 2008.

NOTE: Education levels are defined according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). Lower secondary level or below includes ISCED levels 0 (preschool and kindergarten in the United States), 1 (grades 1 through 6 in the United States), and 2 (grades 7 through 9 in the United States). Upper secondary education includes ISCED levels 3 (grades 10 through 12 in the United States) and 4 (postsecondary nontertiary programs; 1-year certificate programs in the United States). Academic higher education includes ISCED levels 5A (bachelor's, master's, and first-professional degree in the United States) and 6 (doctoral degree in the United States).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2011 (NCES 2012-007).


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education