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EDUCATION INDICATORS: An International Perspective


Indicator 43: Per Student Expenditure on Education

Expenditure per student is a measure of the public investment that a country devotes annually, on average, to each student's education. It allows comparisons of estimated absolute levels of support (or cost) for education. Current public expenditure per student relative to GDP per capita places the expenditure data per student in a relative perspective. It allows for comparisons among countries with wide differences in national wealth by examining what each country spends on its students relative to its available resources. For example, a wealthy country with a large per student expenditure may actually be devoting approximately the same share of its available resources to education as a less wealthy country with a lower per student expenditure. Variations in per student expenditures reflect differences in national wealth, national spending priorities, the relative price of local educational resources (such as teacher salaries), variations in the quantities of resources devoted to education (such as teachers and administrators), and the size of the corresponding private education sector.

  • In 1992, the United States spent more per student on primary and secondary education (in constant U.S. dollars) than did all of the other G-7 countries. However, U.S. per student spending on higher education ($7,097) was in the mid-range of the G-7 countries.

  • Relative to GDP per capita, the United States spent more per student on primary and secondary education than did all but three of the other G-7 countries (Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom, at 23.9, 22.9, and 21.3 percent, respectively). The United States also spent more per student on higher education relative to GDP than most of the G-7 countries, although the United Kingdom and Canada outspent the United States substantially according to this measure. At the primary and secondary and the higher education levels, Japan had the smallest expenditure relative to GDP per capita of all the G-7 countries.

  • In all of the countries presented except Italy and Japan, current public expenditures per student were significantly larger for higher education than for secondary education and below, whether measured in U.S. dollars or relative to GDP per capita. About half the countries reported, including the United States, spent between 1.2 and 2 times the resources per student on higher education as on secondary education and below, and another half spent between 2 and 5 times the resources per student on higher education.


Table 43: Current public expenditure per student /1,/2 (in constant 1991-92 U.S. dollars) and relativeto GDP per capita, by education level and country: 1992


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							Current public expenditure per student
			------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------                              
    			    Constant 1991-92 U.S. dollars3			  Percent of  GDP per capita
			-----------------------------------------	------------------------------------------
					Primary and	Higher		Primary and	Higher
Country	  		Preprimary	secondary	education	Preprimary 	secondary	 education
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G-7                                                              
Canada                  -              $4,752         $10,715           -               23.9            53.8
France                  $2,302          3,636           4,701          12.4             19.6            25.4
West Germany (former)    1,180          3,048           5,749           5.8             15.0            28.3
Italy			-		3,978		3,676		-		22.9		21.2
Japan                    1,300          2,698           2,103           6.6             13.6            10.6
United Kingdom		-		3,473		9,154		-		21.3		56.2
United States            2,286          4,950           7,097           9.7             21.1            30.2
Other
Australia		-		2,853		6,001		-		16.9		35.5
Austria			-		4,116		5,378		-		22.8		29.8
Belgium			-		3,540		5,794		-		19.6		32.1
Czech Republic	   	-		1,097		3,414		-		15.3		47.7
Denmark                  5,627          4,710           6,195          32.0             26.7            35.2
Finland                  5,284          3,911           7,647          36.5             27.0            52.8
Hungary                  1,424          1,613           8,171          20.7             23.4           118.6
Ireland                  1,574          2,056           5,304          12.3             16.1            41.6
Netherlands              2,119          2,842           8,118          12.5             16.8            47.9
New Zealand		-		2,254		8,503		-		15.9		60.2
Norway                   4,206          5,262           6,690          23.8             29.8            37.9
Spain                    1,638          2,006           2,496          12.8             15.7            19.5
Sweden                   6,076          5,289           7,192          35.3             30.7            41.5
Switzerland             -               5,855          11,396          -                26.3            51.2
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-Not available.
1/ Expenditure per student is calculated by dividing total expenditure for education at a given level by the number of students enrolled in both public and private schools. Enrollment is based on headcount estimates for preprimary through 12th grade. For higher education, it is full-time equivalent enrollment.
2/ Undistributed expenditures are not included.
3/ Purchasing power parity (PPP) indices were used to convert other currencies to U.S. dollars. Because the fiscal year has a different starting date in different countries, within-country Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) were used to adjust the PPP indices to account for inflation. See supplemental note to Indicator 43 for additional information on PPP indices.

NOTE: See supplemental note to Indicator 43 for details on indicator calculation for Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland, the methodology used for adjusting inflation rates, private expenditures, and PPP indices.

SOURCE: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Center for Educational Research and Innovation, International Indicators Project, 1995.


Figure 43: Current public expenditure per student (in constant 1991-92 U.S. dollars) and relative to GDP per capita, by education level and G-7 country:* 1992

Figure 43(1) Figure 43(1)

*Countries are sorted in descending order by current public expenditure per student in constant 1991-92 U.S. dollars (primary_secondary).

SOURCE: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Center for Educational Research and Innovation, International Indicators Project, 1995.

See Supplemental Notes on Figure and Tables.


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