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Diagram of the education system

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  • Diagram of education system in country language


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  • Education system in United States

    United States
    Overview of the education system (EAG 2019)
  • In 2018, an average of 49% of 25-34 year-olds in the United States had attained tertiary education which was higher than the OECD average of 44% but lower than 9 other OECD countries.
  • The United States spends USD 30 165 per student enrolled in tertiary educational institutions each year, the second highest amount after Luxembourg.
  • Average actual salaries (including bonuses and allowances) of teachers in primary and secondary education in the United States are higher than the OECD average. However, U.S. teachers earn less than 70% of the salaries of full-time, full-year workers (25-64 year-olds) with tertiary education in the United States, some of the lowest relative earnings across all OECD countries.
  • Despite increasing awareness of the importance of high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC), enrolment in ECEC at the age of 3 in the United States is 35 percentage points below the OECD average.
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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

    In United States, the percentage of 25-64 year-olds who attained a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (23.6 %, rank 8/46 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-64 year-olds who attained a doctoral or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (2 %, rank 4/36 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The average age of upper secondary graduates from general programmes in United States is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data (17.4 Years, rank 32/38 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Attainment by gender

    In United States, the share of 25-64 year-old men who attained a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the largest among countries with available data. (22.6 %, rank 8/46 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Attainment by field of education

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of humanities (except languages), social sciences, journalism and information is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (20.4 %, rank 1/30 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of business, administration and law is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (21.5 %, rank 23/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (9.8 %, rank 1/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The percentage of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education who studied in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (9.7 %, rank 31/32 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The proportion of 25-64 years-old adults with below upper secondary education participating in formal education is high in United States. (7.3 %, rank 8/24 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-64 years-old adults with tertiary education participating in formal education is high in United States. (19.4 %, rank 6/36 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Among adults (25-64 years-old) with tertiary education, a high participate in non-formal education. (74.3 %, rank 4/36 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Participation rate of 25-64 year-olds in job-related non-formal education sponsored by the employer is high in United States, compared to other countries with available data. (77.8 %, rank 9/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Participation rate of 25-64 year-olds in not job-related non-formal education is low in United States, compared to other countries with available data. (13.6 %, rank 25/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The percentage of three-year-olds in early childhood education in United States is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (41.6 %, rank 34/40 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of four-year-olds in early childhood and primary education in United States is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (65.9 %, rank 37/42 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United States, the share of part-time students in master's programmes is relatively large. (44 %, rank 6/30 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The share of part-time students in doctoral programmes in United States is relatively large. (35.3 %, rank 9/29 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Graduation by gender

    In United States, the share of female doctoral graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is relatively low. (24.3 %, rank 36/42 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Graduation by field of education

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of arts and humanities is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (19.4 %, rank 2/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of business, administration and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (19.1 %, rank 37/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (7.3 %, rank 9/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (7.2 %, rank 42/44 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Fields of education

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled in the field of business, administration and law in United States is relatively low. (17.7 %, rank 31/36 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction in United States is relatively low. (7.4 %, rank 37/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Student mobility

    United States is one of the most attractive destinations to foreign students compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (18.4 %, rank 1/46 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled abroad in United States is relatively low. (0.5 %, rank 45/46 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United States, the number of international or foreign students per national student abroad is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (11 Students, rank 3/46 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United States, international students from Latin America and the Caribbean are most represented among all international students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (7.9 %, rank 10/45 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United States, international students from Asia are most represented among all international students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (76.9 %, rank 6/45 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United States, international students from Oceania are most represented among all international students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.7 %, rank 6/45 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Student mobility by field of education

    The percentage of international tertiary students enrolled in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction in United States is relatively high. (19.6 %, rank 9/37 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Organisation of the education system

    In United States, compulsory instruction time for lower secondary students, in hours per year, is one of the longest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1020 Hours, rank 7/36 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Classes in lower secondary public institutions are comparatively large in United States. (27 Students, rank 9/34 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Resources for education

    The salary cost of upper secondary teachers per students (as a percentage of GDP per capita) in United States is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6.5 %, rank 13/16 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Expenditure per student

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (30165 USD Equivalent, rank 2/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per student from primary to tertiary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (16987 USD Equivalent, rank 2/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per pupil at the pre-primary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (9151 USD Equivalent, rank 9/31 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per primary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (12184 USD Equivalent, rank 4/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per secondary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13845 USD Equivalent, rank 5/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per student for core and ancillary services, from primary to below-tertiary institutions is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13019 USD Equivalent, rank 4/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (26550 USD Equivalent, rank 2/32 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United States, the total expenditure on educational institutions per full-time equivalent student in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary, is relatively high. (13019 USD Equivalent, rank 4/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Expenditure in education and national wealth

    In United States, expenditure on primary through tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is one of the highest among OECD countries and partner economies. (6 %, rank 5/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United States, expenditure on tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (2.5 %, rank 2/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United States, private expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP on primary to tertiary education from final source of funds is relatively high. (1.9 %, rank 2/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Public and private expenditure in education

    The share of private expenditure on pre-primary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (25.7 %, rank 7/31 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The share of private expenditure on tertiary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (65.4 %, rank 3/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    United States has one of the largest shares of private expenditure on primary through tertiary educational institutions among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (32.1 %, rank 3/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Change in public expenditure on educational institutions for primary to tertiary education between 2010 and 2016 in United States is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (-3.1 %, rank 23/27 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for tertiary education is comparatively small. (34.6 %, rank 33/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United States, the share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for primary to tertiary education is comparatively small. (67.9 %, rank 33/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Tuition fees

    The estimated average annual tuitions fees charged by public institutions, for foreign students in bachelor's or equivalent level in United States is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (24854 USD Equivalent, rank 1/6 , 2017) Download Indicator

    In United States, the percentage of students who do not benefit from public/government-guaranteed private loans or public scholarships/grants is comparatively low. (11 %, rank 11/14 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Ratio of student to teaching staff

    The number of students per teacher in tertiary institutions is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (13.9 Ratio, rank 22/30 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The number of students per teacher in secondary schools is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (15.4 Ratio, rank 9/38 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Who the teachers are

    The share of women among teaching staff in pre-primary education is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (94.2 %, rank 34/40 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The share of women among teaching staff in tertiary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (49.6 %, rank 6/36 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The percentage of primary to upper secondary teachers younger than 30 is especially high. (15.2 %, rank 6/34 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries

    The ratio of pre-primary teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.62 Ratio, rank 22/24 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The ratio of primary teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.63 Ratio, rank 27/27 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The ratio of lower secondary teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.65 Ratio, rank 25/27 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The ratio of upper secondary teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year workers with tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.68 Ratio, rank 25/27 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The average actual lower secondary teacher's salary among teachers aged between 25-64 is one of the highest per hour of net teaching time among OECD and partner countries with available data. (54993 USD Equivalent, rank 6/28 , 2017) Download Indicator

    After 15 years of experience, a lower secondary teacher with typical qualification can expect to have one of the highest salaries among OECD and partner countries with available data. (64467 USD Equivalent, rank 5/33 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The ratio of lower secondary female teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year women workers with tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.78 Ratio, rank 23/23 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The ratio of lower secondary male teachers' salaries to earnings of full-time, full-year men workers with tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.58 Ratio, rank 20/23 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The salaries of 25-34 year-old general lower-secondary teachers relative to earnings for full-time, full-year similarly educated workers with tertiary education is low in United States. (0.72 Ratio, rank 19/22 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The salaries of 35-44 year-old general lower-secondary teachers relative to earnings for full-time, full-year similarly educated workers with tertiary education is low in United States. (0.64 Ratio, rank 19/22 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The salaries of 45-54 year-old general lower-secondary teachers relative to earnings for full-time, full-year similarly educated workers with tertiary education is low in United States. (0.65 Ratio, rank 20/22 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The salaries of 55-64 year-old general lower-secondary teachers relative to earnings for full-time, full-year similarly educated workers with tertiary education is low in United States. (0.65 Ratio, rank 21/22 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The average actual salaries of 25-34 year-old lower-secondary teachers is one of the highest in United States relatively compared to OECD and partner countries with available data. (47865 USD Equivalent, rank 4/23 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The average actual salaries of 55-64 year-old lower-secondary teachers is one of the highest in United States. (61919 USD Equivalent, rank 3/23 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Teachers' salaries progression

    Starting salaries for teachers with minimum training in primary education are especially high. (40067 USD Equivalent, rank 9/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Starting salaries for lower secondary teachers with minimum training are especially high. (40602 USD Equivalent, rank 9/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Principals' salaries

    Lower-secondary school heads' salaries relative to earnings for full-time, full-year similarly educated workers with tertiary education is low in United States. (1.15 Ratio, rank 14/22 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Upper-secondary school heads' salaries relative to earnings for full-time, full-year similarly educated workers with tertiary education is low in United States. (1.17 Ratio, rank 17/22 , 2017) Download Indicator

    The average lower secondary school heads' actual salary is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (96518 USD Equivalent, rank 2/23 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Employment and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a doctoral or equivalent tertiary education degree is low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (87.8 %, rank 34/35 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (70 %, rank 31/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Unemployment and educational attainment

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a doctoral or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the lowest of all OECD countries and partner economies for which data are available. (1.8 %, rank 17/21 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64, with below upper secondary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for less than 3 months is one of the largest in United States, compared to other OECD countries. (54.3 %, rank 5/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with below upper secondary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for at least 12 months is one of the smallest in United States, compared to other OECD countries. (19.1 %, rank 33/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for at least 12 months is one of the smallest in United States, compared to other OECD countries. (16.2 %, rank 34/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with tertiary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for less than 3 months is one of the largest in United States, compared to other OECD countries. (55 %, rank 4/31 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Among the unemployed population aged between 25 and 64 with tertiary education, the share of those who have been unemployed for at least 12 months is one of the smallest in United States, compared to OECD countries. (15.2 %, rank 33/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with below upper secondary education is high in United States. (35.1 %, rank 9/42 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with tertiary education is high in United States. (12.9 %, rank 10/43 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Earnings and educational attainment

    The earnings of men without an upper secondary education are relatively low compared to those of men with an upper secondary education. (69 Index, rank 34/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The earnings of women without an upper secondary education are relatively low compared to those of women with an upper secondary education. (69 Index, rank 33/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The earnings of adults without an upper secondary education are relatively low compared to those of adults with an upper secondary or a post-secondary non-tertiary education. (69 Index, rank 31/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The proportional difference in earnings between 25-64 year-old adults with tertiary education and those with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is quite high. (168 Index, rank 10/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (among 25-64 year-olds without an upper secondary education with income from employment) are one of the lowest among countries with available data. (70.5 %, rank 33/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary education and income from employment) are one of the lowest among countries with available data. (70.5 %, rank 32/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (among 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education and income from employment) are one of the lowest among countries with available data. (71 %, rank 28/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Earnings of women as a percentage of men's earnings (25-64 year-olds with income from employment) are one of the lowest among countries with available data. (75.3 %, rank 33/37 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Earnings by field of education

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of education are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United States. (64.9 %, rank 15/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of arts and humanities, social sciences, journalism and information are high, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United States. (83.7 %, rank 4/14 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of business, administration and law are high, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United States. (108.2 %, rank 8/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of natural sciences, mathematics and statistics are high, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United States. (122.7 %, rank 2/14 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction are high, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United States. (127.4 %, rank 2/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Earnings of tertiary-educated adults who studied in the field of health and welfare are low, compared to earnings of all tertiary-educated adults in United States. (88.1 %, rank 12/15 , 2017) Download Indicator

    Migrant background

    The proportion of 25-64 year-old native-born people without upper secondary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6.1 %, rank 27/30 , 2015) Download Indicator

    The employment rate of native-born aged between 25-64 with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (46 %, rank 27/30 , 2015) Download Indicator

    The employment rate of native-born aged between 25 and 34 with tertiary education is comparatively low. (69.3 %, rank 29/30 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Earnings of foreign-born aged between 25 and 64 who work full- and part-time with tertiary education are high compared to those of native-born with the same characteristics. (106 Index, rank 3/21 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Social outcomes

    Among employed adults (25-64 years-old) with below upper secondary education, a large share have difficulties to fulfill their family responsabilities because of their jobs, compared to other countries with available data. (58.4 %, rank 4/18 , 2015) Download Indicator

    The proportion of employed adults (25-64 years-old) with below upper secondary education who have concentration difficulties at work because of family responsabilities is high in United States. (41.1 %, rank 2/18 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Weekly working hours among employed 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education are long in United States compared to other OECD countries. (42.1 Hours/week, rank 4/28 , 2015) Download Indicator

    Among employed 25-64 year-olds with below upper secondary education, a small share have high flexibility of working hours. (16.2 %, rank 24/28 , 2015) Download Indicator


    The data table will display up to six selected countries.
    General findings
    • In 2018, 44% of 25-34 year-olds held a tertiary degree, compared to 35% in 2008, on average across OECD countries.
    • Tertiary-educated adults also reap higher earnings, although this varies by field of study. Their advantage increases with age too: 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education earn 38% more than their peers with upper secondary education while 45-54 year-olds earn 70% more.
    • While engineering, manufacturing and construction, and information and communication technologies are two fields most commonly associated with the best labour market outcomes, only 14% of graduates earned a degree in the former and 4% earned a degree in the latter in 2017.
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    • Although graduation from upper secondary education increased by 6 percentage points between 2005 and 2017, 15% of 25-34 year-olds did not attain upper secondary education in 2018, on average across OECD countries.
    • In some countries, vocational programmes are prominent at the upper secondary level. On average across OECD countries, 40% of first-time upper secondary graduates earned a vocational qualification in 2017; in Austria, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, more than 66% of this population did.
    • At the lower secondary level, the average class shrank by 6% while teachers’ statutory salaries increased by 8% between 2005 and 2017, on average across OECD countries.
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    • In 2017, more than one in three children under the age of three were enrolled in early childhood education and care services, on average across OECD countries - an increase of 7 percentage points compared to 2010.
    • Between the age of 3 to 5, on average across OECD countries, 87% of children are enrolled in pre-primary and primary education.
    • Annual expenditure per child in early childhood development programmes was greater than in pre-primary education in 2016 on average across OECD countries. However, as a share of GDP, expenditure on early childhood development is lower.
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    • In 2016, expenditure per tertiary student amounted to USD 15 556, approximately one-third of which was devoted to research and development.
    • Private sources financed more than 30% of the expenditure, on average, at the tertiary level compared to 10% at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level.
    • OECD countries spent an average of 3.5% of GDP on primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary institutions in 2016, and public expenditure at this level increased by 18% since 2005.
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    • About 10% of primary and secondary teachers are under the age of 30, on average across OECD countries.
    • While the teaching profession is dominated by women, the share of female teachers decreases with the level of education taught: almost all teachers at the pre-primary level are women, however they make up less than half of the teaching force at tertiary level.
    • Salaries tend to increase with the level of education taught, but teachers' earnings remain between 78% and 93% of the earnings of other tertiary-educated adults.
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    Key
    Country Reviews for United States

    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 2019 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.