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Japan
Overview of the education system (EAG 2013)
  • Japan has a highly educated adult population, with 46% of 25-64 year-olds having attained a tertiary education in 2011, up from 34 year-olds % of 25-64 year-olds in 2000. This proportion was much larger than the OECD average (32%) and the third largest among OECD countries. Moreover, tertiary attainment rates among younger adults continue to climb: in 2011, 59% of Japan's 25-34 year-olds had a tertiary education, an 11 percentage-point increase since 2000. This was the second highest proportion among OECD countries, while the OECD average was 39%.
  • Enrolment and graduation rates are high and increasing. In 2011, 93% of 4-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood education. Upper-secondary education is also almost universal in Japan, with graduation rates in 2011 reaching 96%, the third highest proportion among OECD countries and considerably higher than the OECD average of 83%.
  • The global financial crisis severely affected the employment climate across OECD countries, particularly among young adults. Japan was no exception. The proportion of 15-24 year-olds who were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) exceeded 10% for the first time in 2011, up from 8.8% in 2005. Even those who were employed were in a precarious situation. More than one-third of 15-24 year-olds who were not in education, but employed, were part-time workers. The proportion of part-time workers is larger among young adults who have less education. In 2011, one in four employed young tertiary graduates was working part-time, whereas just over two in five employed young people without a tertiary degree were working part-time.
  • Japan continues to prioritise education with a comparatively high annual expenditure per student. In 2010, the annual expenditure on education services per student in primary education was USD 8 353 and that for students in secondary education was USD 9 957, both higher than the OECD average of USD 7 974 and USD 9 014, respectively. Average annual expenditure per tertiary student was USD 16 015, considerably higher than the OECD average of USD 13 528.
  • Teachers' net teaching hours are shorter than the OECD average. In 2011, public school teachers in Japan taught 731 hours at the primary level (OECD average: 790 hours), 602 hours at the lower secondary level (OECD average: 709 hours), and 510 hours at the upper secondary level (OECD average: 664 hours). This gap between working hours and teaching hours may reflect the time teachers spend working outside of the classroom. Tasks outside the classroom typically include supervising students' extracurricular activities, providing student counselling, and dealing with administrative matters.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Educational outcomes

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (46 %, rank 3/36 ) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The percentage of young people expected to graduate from pre-vocational and vocational programmes in upper secondary education in Japan is comparatively low (23 %, rank 29/36 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary education during their lifetimes is one of the high among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (96 %, rank 3/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan, the percentage of today's young men expected to graduate from upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (95 %, rank 1/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan, the percentage of today's women expected to graduate from upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (96 %, rank 5/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan, the percentage of today's young people expected to graduate from upper secondary education of general programme is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (73 %, rank 2/36 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied Engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (56 %, rank 16/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied Sciences is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (0 %, rank 17/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational men graduates who studied agriculture is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (11 %, rank 1/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied humanities, arts and education is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (0 %, rank 25/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied health and welfare is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (10 %, rank 18/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary vocational women graduates who studied social science, business and law is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (40 %, rank 5/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who studied services in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (12 %, rank 20/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of female graduates who student agriculture in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (12 %, rank 1/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied humanities, arts and education in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (0 %, rank 25/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied health and welfare in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (1 %, rank 19/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied social sciences, business and law in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries (17 %, rank 6/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of male graduates who studied social services in upper secondary vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries (2 %, rank 23/25 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan, the annual growth of first-time graduation rates in tertiary-type A education is comparatively high. (3 %, rank 10/25 ) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary students enrolled in vocational or pre-vocational programmes is one of the smallest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (23 %, rank 33/38 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan, the number of expected years in education between the ages of 5 and 39 is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (16 Years, rank 32/38 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the number of foreign students in tertiary education in Japan between 2005 and 2011 is one of the smallest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (120 %, rank 29/34 ) Download Indicator

    The expected number of years in education for 15-29 year-olds in Japan is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (6 %, rank 30/35 ) Download Indicator

    The expected number of years in education for 15-29 year-old women in Japan is one of the lowest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (6 %, rank 32/35 ) Download Indicator

    Resources for education

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (16015 USD Equivalent, rank 9/33 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan, cumulative expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (71441 USD Equivalent, rank 8/20 ) Download Indicator

    The change in expenditure between 2005 and 2010 per student at the tertiary level is comparatively large. (114 Index, rank 8/31 ) Download Indicator

    The change in total expenditure between 2005 and 2010 at the tertiary level is comparatively small. (110 Index, rank 25/32 ) Download Indicator

    The change in the number of students between 2005 and 2010 at the tertiary level is comparatively small. (96 Index, rank 29/31 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively low. (4 %, rank 33/33 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan private expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (2 %, rank 5/29 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan the change in expenditure between 2008 and 2010 on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively large. (110 Index, rank 9/30 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan the change in GDP between 2008 and 2010 is comparatively small. (96 Index, rank 26/34 ) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on pre-primary education is one of the largest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (55 %, rank 1/28 ) Download Indicator

    In Japan public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP is comparatively low. (4 %, rank 33/33 ) Download Indicator

    Public funding to households and other private entities in tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (29 %, rank 7/32 ) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    After 15 years of experience, a lower secondary teacher can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (45741 USD Equivalent, rank 10/32 ) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a primary teacher can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (45741 USD Equivalent, rank 10/33 ) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in primary school is especially large. (200 Days, rank 5/33 ) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in lower secondary school is especially large. (200 Days, rank 6/30 ) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in upper secondary school is especially large. (196 Days, rank 5/31 ) Download Indicator

    Classroom environment

    Total intended instruction time for lower secondary students in Japan is among the shortest among OECD and G20 countries with available data. (2598 Hours, rank 23/31 ) Download Indicator

    Classes are particularly large in lower secondary schools. (33 Students, rank 4/30 ) Download Indicator

    Classes are particularly large in primary schools. (28 Students, rank 3/31 ) Download Indicator

    Economic and social outcomes

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-old individuals with a tertiary education is comparatively low. (80 %, rank 28/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among men with an upper secondary or a post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high. (85 %, rank 10/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among men with a tertiary education is comparatively high. (92 %, rank 2/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among women with an upper secondary or a post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (61 %, rank 27/36 ) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among women with a tertiary education is comparatively low. (67 %, rank 34/36 ) Download Indicator


    General findings
    • Across almost all OECD countries, upper secondary attainment is the norm. On average, 75% of 25-64 year-olds and 82% of 25-34 year-olds had reached this level of attainment in 2011. However, despite notable strides, some countries remain far below the OECD average in upper secondary attainment. For example, in Mexico, Portugal and Turkey, less than 20% of the population had attained upper secondary education as the highest level of education in 2011.
    • Vocational education and training is a major factor in the educational attainment of people in many countries. In 2011, a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education was the highest level of attainment for more than 50% of 25-64 year-olds in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. However, in these countries, people tend to leave education after attaining upper secondary qualifications. In an additional 10 OECD countries, a vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment was the highest educational level for more than 30% of 25-64 year-olds.
    • Tertiary attainment levels have increased considerably over the last decades. On average across OECD countries, the proportion of 25-64 year-olds that hold a tertiary qualification has increased by 4.2% per year since 2000. However, even though tertiary attainment rates have increased in recent years, less than 35% of both men and women had attained a tertiary education in 2011.
    • If current tertiary attainment rates among 25-34 year-olds are maintained, the proportion of adults in France, Ireland, Japan and Korea who have a tertiary education will surpass that of other OECD countries, while the proportion in Austria, Brazil and Germany will fall further behind other OECD countries.
    • Significant progress has been achieved in reducing the gender gap in educational attainment and women have surpassed men in many aspects of education in OECD countries. Among 30-34 year-olds, more than 40% of women had a tertiary education in 2011, surpassing the rate of men with that level of education by about 8 percentage points. Tertiary attainment rates among young women have grown strongly in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, where 50% or more of younger women in that age group had attained tertiary education in 2011.
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    • Across OECD countries, employment rates are highest among people who have a tertiary education; and these individuals are also most likely to be employed full time.
    • Unemployment rates are nearly three times higher among individuals who do not have an upper secondary education (13% on average across OECD countries in 2011) than among those who have a tertiary education (5% in 2011).
    • Individuals who have at least an upper secondary education have a greater chance of being employed than those without that level of education.
    • Gender differences in employment rates are smallest among tertiary-educated individuals and largest among men and women who do not have an upper secondary education.
    • In all OECD countries, adults with tertiary education earn more than adults with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, who, in turn, earn more than adults with a below upper secondary education.
    • On average across OECD countries, the difference in earnings between younger and older workers increases with educational attainment, benefitting more educated older workers. The earnings premium for tertiary-educated 55-64 year-olds is generally larger than that for all tertiary educated workers: in 2011, on average, the earnings differential between these two groups increased by 16 percentage points.
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    • In 2011, on average across OECD countries, 16% of 15-29 year-olds were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) (7% unemployed and 9% inactive), as were 8% of 15-19 year-olds (2.7% unemployed and 5.8% inactive), and 20% of 25-29 year-olds (8% unemployed and 12% inactive).
    • In Chile, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Turkey, more than 20% of 15-29 year-olds were NEET in 2011 compared to less than 10% in Austria, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Unemployment levels are particularly worrying in Greece (14.6% in 2011) and Spain (17.0% in 2011), as is inactivity among young people in those countries (7.1% and 7.5%, respectively, in 2011).
    • On average across OECD countries in 2011, 18% of 15-29 year-old women were NEET (12% inactive and 6% unemployed) as were 13% of 15-29 year-old men (7% unemployed and 6% inactive).
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    • In 2010, OECD countries spent an average of 6.3% of their GDP on educational institutions. Out of the 33 countries for which data were available, this proportion exceeded 7% in Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, Norway and the United States. Only the Czech Republic, Hungary Italy, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic spent less than 5% of their GDP on educational institutions.
    • On average, OECD countries spent USD 9 313 annually per student from primary through tertiary education in 2010: USD 7 974 per primary student, USD 9 014 per secondary student and USD 13 528 per tertiary student. Spending per pre-primary student amounted to USD 6 762 per year.
    • While there was no clear global trend in how the proportion of public expenditure on education evolved during the economic crisis, in 14 out of the 30 countries with available data, public expenditure on education grew at a faster rate than public expenditure on all other services between 2008 and 2010.
    • Public funding accounted for 84% of all funds for educational institutions on average in OECD countries in 2010, and between 2000 and 2010, public funding increased for all levels of education combined. However, more pressure has been put on households to share the cost of education, and private funding increased at an even greater rate in more than three-quarters of countries. The share of public and private investment in education differs among education levels. Tertiary institutions and, to a lesser extent, pre-primary institutions obtain the largest proportions of funds from private sources (32% and 18%, respectively, in 2010).
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    • The ratio of students to teaching staff varies across OECD countries and levels of education. At the primary level, there were more than 15 students for every teacher on average in OECD countries in 2011. In most countries, the student-teacher ratio decreases between primary and lower secondary school, despite an increase in class size. In 2011, there were, on average, about 14 students per teacher at the secondary level. At the tertiary level, there were, on average, about 16 students per teacher in OECD countries.
    • The number of teaching hours per teacher in public schools in 2011 averaged 790 hours per year in primary education, 709 hours in lower secondary education, and 664 hours in upper secondary education.
    • Teachers' statutory salaries vary widely across countries, but often increase with the level of education. In 2011, the statutory salaries of teachers with at least 15 years of experience averaged USD 36 135 at the pre-primary level, USD 38 136 at the primary level, USD 39 934 at the lower secondary level, and USD 41 665 at the upper secondary level. Between 2000 and 2011, teachers' salaries increased in real terms in most countries.
    • On average in OECD countries, pre-primary school teachers' salaries in 2011 amounted to 80% of full-time, full-year earnings of tertiary-educated adults working in different occupations. Primary school teachers' salaries amounted to 82% of that income, lower secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 85% of that benchmark, and upper secondary school teachers' salaries amounted to 89% of those earnings.
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    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS average. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG for more details about the data collections.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.