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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-20 countries, higher levels of education were associated with higher income (as well as lower rates of low income). Among U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds whose highest level of educational attainment was lower secondary education or below, 15 percent earned more than the median income in 2011. The U.S. percentage was lower than that in any other G-20 country reporting data, where the percentages ranged from 16 percent in the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom to 46 percent in Brazil. Three percent of U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds with this level of education earned more than two times the country’s median income. The corresponding percentages in the other G-20 countries ranged from 1 percent in, again, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom to 13 percent in Brazil. In contrast, 47 percent of such U.S. adults earned at or below half of the country’s median income, which was a higher rate than that in any other G-20 country reporting data, where the percentages ranged from 23 percent in Brazil to 37 percent in the United Kingdom.

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 2011. The U.S. percentage was lower than that in any other G-20 country reporting data except the Republic of Korea, which also had 38 percent. The corresponding percentages in the other G-20 countries ranged from 40 percent in the United Kingdom to 54 percent in Italy. (Italy was the only reporting G-20 country in which more than half of the adults with an upper secondary education earned more than the country’s median income.) Eight percent of U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds with an upper secondary education earned more than two times the country’s median income. The corresponding percentages in the other G-20 countries ranged from 5 percent in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom to 32 percent in Brazil. In contrast, 26 percent of such U.S. adults earned at or below half of the country’s median income; in the other G-20 countries, the percentages ranged from 6 percent in Brazil to 27 percent in Canada.

Among U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds who had completed academic higher education, 68 percent earned more than the median income in 2011. The corresponding percentages in the other G-20 countries ranged from 65 percent in Canada to 94 percent in Brazil. Thirty percent of U.S. 25- to 64-year-olds with this level of education earned more than two times the country’s median income. The corresponding percentages in the other G-20 countries ranged from 24 percent in France to 74 percent in Brazil. In contrast, 13 percent of such U.S. adults earned at or below half of the country’s median income; in the other G-20 countries, the percentages ranged from 2 percent in Brazil to 18 percent in Canada.


Percentage of the population ages 25 to 64, by highest level of education, income, and country: 2011
Country Education level and income
Lower secondary education or below1 Upper secondary education2 Academic higher education3
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
Australia4 24 3 15 6 10 18
Brazil 23 13 6 32 2 74
Canada5 36 6 27 10 18 29
France 4 33 4 19 5 10 24
Germany 32 3 25 5 13 28
Italy 4 26 4 16 9 13 25
Republic of Korea 32 1 15 6 4 26
United Kingdom 37 1 21 5 9 26
United States 47 3 26 8 13 30

1Includes ISCED97 levels 0 (preprimary education), 1 (primary education), and 2 (lower secondary education).

2 Includes ISCED97 levels 3 (upper secondary education) and 4 (postsecondary nontertiary programs).

3 Includes ISCED97 levels 5A (academic higher education below the doctoral level) and 6 (doctoral level of academic higher education).

4 Reference year is 2009 rather than 2011.

5 Reference year is 2010 rather than 2011.

NOTE: The Republic of Korea reports earnings net of income tax. See the source listed below for the additional income categories that make up the full percentage distribution: more than half the median but at or below the median, more than the median but at or below 1.5 times the median, and more than 1.5 times the median but at or below 2.0 times the median. Education levels are defined according to the 1997 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED97).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-20 Countries: 2015 (NCES 2016-100).


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