Education – Investing in the Future

In spite of the recent recession, college graduation rates continue to rise worldwide. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) examined the percentage of adults with a college degree or equivalent in major economies around the world and compared this with the amount spent on tertiary, or post-secondary education in that country.

It’s no surprise that the countries that spend most on education as a percentage of their gross domestic product generally have the most educated populations – and this translates into the most skilled and globally competitive populations as well. Additionally, more education helped people keep jobs and find new ones during the recession.

How does the US stack up? According to furosemide no prescription the OECD’s Education as a Glance 2012 survey, the percentage of Americans with a college degree or equivalent stood at 42%. Overall, of the survey’s ten most educated countries, the United States stands at fourth, behind Canada, Israel, and Japan. Although the secondary school graduation rate in the US lags behind that of other developed nations, the country spends more on education than most other countries.

What makes the OECD’s report especially interesting is its analysis of the kind of funding that supports education in the US and other countries. Since the availability of educational funding, in the form of scholarships, grants and institutional support of various kinds, has a direct relationship to how many people pursue a post-secondary education, a revealing statistic is the percentage of private and public funding allocated to education.

In countries with the highest rates of college graduation, private spending on education and education-related enterprises was significantly higher than that provided by public sources. As we’ve seen, private contributions to education can include such things as endowments to educational institutions, scholarship funds, grants for research and the purchase of land or equipment. This kind of charitable contribution makes a college education accessible to more students, and helps to keep research institutions competitive with their counterparts around the world.

Private funding can come from many sources – individuals, corporations and other organizations such as religious institutions or non-profit funders in a variety of specialties, and contributions can be directed anywhere the funder wishes. Statistics for the period between 2009 and 2012 reveal that in the United States, as in the majority of the other best educated countries, private funding outpaced public spending in nearly all categories.

The picture isn’t entirely rosy, of course. The US lags in the number of students choosing to major in science, math and technology, and particularly in the percentage of women in those fields. And secondary school figures reveal a profile of poorly performing high schoolers in writing, reading and critical thinking.

But the message is clear: the private sector, rather than public policy, is a driving force behind US excellence in education. With support from independent entities like the Jason Hartman Foundation, an educated population is better equipped to withstand economic downturns – and to lead the way in global competitiveness. (Top image: Flickr | Wonderlake)

The American Monetary Association Team


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