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United States
Overview of the education system (EAG 2021)
  • In the United States, 57% of 25-34 year-old women had a tertiary qualification in 2020 compared to 47% of their male peers.
  • In 2018, the United States invested a total of USD 14 009 per student on primary to tertiary institutions compared to USD 10 454 on average across OECD countries. This represents 6% of GDP, compared to 4.9% on average across OECD countries.
  • Statutory salaries of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of their salary scales are 76% to 80% higher than those of teachers with the minimum qualifications at the start of their career at pre-primary (ISCED 02), primary and general lower and upper secondary levels in the United States compared to 86% - 91% on 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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    Attainment

    The level of tertiary attainment among 55-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (44.3 %, rank 5/45 , 2020) 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 5/36 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-34 year-olds who have attained a general degree at the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (42.2 %, rank 3/40 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 55-64 year-olds who have attained a general degree at the upper secondary or post-secondary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (46 %, rank 2/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Attainment by gender

    The share of 25-34 year-old men who attained below upper secondary education in United States is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6.3 %, rank 40/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The enrolment rate of 6-14 year-olds in United States is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (100 %, rank 1/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation

    The share of first-time short-cycle graduates is relatively high in United States. (40.8 %, rank 3/26 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In United States, the share of first-time graduates in vocational programmes at post-secondary non-tertiary level is comparatively important . (100 %, rank 1/24 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by gender

    In United States, the proportion of male tertiary graduates in the field of arts and humanities is relatively large. (18.5 %, rank 1/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of male tertiary graduates in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is relatively low in United States. (30.1 %, rank 34/38 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by field of education

    The proportion of female tertiary graduates in social sciences, business and law is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries. (16.2 %, rank 39/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    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 1/44 , 2019) 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 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Student mobility

    In United States, the proportion of young men who are neither employed nor in education or training among 15-19 year-olds is comparatively large. (16 %, rank 1/81 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled abroad in United States is relatively low. (0.6 %, rank 42/44 , 2019) 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. (10 Students, rank 4/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Adult participation in non-formal education

    In United States, the proportion of employed adults participating in non-formal education and training is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (67.8 %, rank 4/36 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United States, the proportion of adults employed in enterprises of over 249 persons and participating in non-formal education and training is high compared to other OECD and partner countries. (77.9 %, rank 5/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    The percentage of employed adults participating in job-related non-formal education and training sponsored by the employer is relatively high. (56.6 %, rank 5/36 , 2016) Download Indicator

    United States had one of the smallest share of adults employed in enterprises of over 249 persons and participating in non-job-related non-formal education and training not sponsored by the employer. (1.9 %, rank 30/31 , 2016) Download Indicator

    United States had one of the smallest share of adults employed in the public sector and participating in non-job-related non-formal education and training not sponsored by the employer. (3.8 %, rank 32/35 , 2016) Download Indicator

    In United States, the number of annual hours of participation of adults with upper secondary or post-secondary education in non-formal education and training is comparatively high (167.2 %, rank 3/36 , 2016) Download Indicator

    Expenditure per student

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (34036 USD Equivalent, rank 2/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per student from primary to tertiary level is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (18593 USD Equivalent, rank 2/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per secondary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14859 USD Equivalent, rank 5/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Annual expenditure per tertiary student is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (29969 USD Equivalent, rank 1/34 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In United States, the total expenditure on educational institutions per full-time equivalent student in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education, is relatively high. (14009 USD Equivalent, rank 5/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In United States, the total expenditure per full-time equivalent student on primary to tertiary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17637 USD Equivalent 2015, rank 2/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In United States, the total expenditure per full-time equivalent student on tertiary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (32285 USD Equivalent 2015, rank 2/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Expenditure in education and national wealth

    In United States, expenditure on tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of GDP is comparatively high. (2.5 %, rank 1/37 , 2018) 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 4/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Public and private expenditure in education

    The share of private expenditure on tertiary education is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (64.4 %, rank 4/37 , 2018) 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. (31.8 %, rank 4/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    The share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for tertiary education is comparatively small. (35.6 %, rank 34/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In United States, the share of public expenditure on educational institutions, for primary to tertiary education is comparatively small. (68.2 %, rank 34/37 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Nature of expenditure

    In United States, the share of capital expenditure on post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively high . (10.9 %, rank 4/17 , 2018) Download Indicator

    In United States, the share of current expenditure on post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (89.1 %, rank 14/17 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    The number of hours per year primary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively high in United States. (1004 Hours, rank 3/32 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The number of hours per year lower secondary teachers spend teaching in public institutions is comparatively high in United States. (966 Hours, rank 4/32 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The number of days of instruction in a school year in pre-primary school is especially low. (180 Days, rank 22/26 , 2020) 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. (0.59 Ratio, rank 19/21 , 2020) 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. (0.61 Ratio, rank 24/25 , 2020) 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. (0.63 Ratio, rank 24/25 , 2020) 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. (0.66 Ratio, rank 24/25 , 2020) 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. (66105 USD Equivalent, rank 5/33 , 2020) 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. (0.76 Ratio, rank 20/21 , 2020) 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. (0.56 Ratio, rank 20/21 , 2020) 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. (0.73 Ratio, rank 19/21 , 2020) 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. (0.62 Ratio, rank 20/21 , 2020) 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. (0.62 Ratio, rank 20/21 , 2020) 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. (0.63 Ratio, rank 20/21 , 2020) 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. (51028 USD Equivalent, rank 4/23 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The average actual salaries of 55-64 year-old lower-secondary teachers is one of the highest in United States. (65308 USD Equivalent, rank 5/23 , 2020) 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. (1.09 Ratio, rank 20/22 , 2020) 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. (1.12 Ratio, rank 20/21 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The average lower secondary school heads' actual salary is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (100628 USD Equivalent, rank 4/23 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In United States, the average actual salaries of 25-34 year-old lower-secondary school heads is relatively high compared to OECD and partner countries with available data. (85903 USD Equivalent, rank 5/17 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The average actual salaries of 55-64 year-old lower secondary school heads is one of the highest in United States. (103615 USD Equivalent, rank 4/21 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The average actual salaries of lower secondary men school heads aged 25 to 64 is one of the highest in United States. (100557 USD Equivalent, rank 4/21 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The average actual salaries of lower secondary women school heads aged 25 to 64 is one of the highest in United States. (101438 USD Equivalent, rank 4/21 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Organisation of the education system

    In United States, total compulsory instruction time for primary and lower secondary students is one of the longest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (8903 Hours, rank 5/37 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Earnings, gender 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. (72 Index, rank 33/37 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Participation in education by gender

    The proportion of women (excluding international students) expected to enter master's programmes before the age of 25 is one of the smallest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (0.4 %, rank 27/30 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In United States, the percentage of women (excluding international students) expected to enter tertiary education before the age of 25 is relatively low. (47.5 %, rank 25/29 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Entrance

    In United States, the percentage of young people expected to enter into tertiary education before the age of 25 is relatively low. (44.8 %, rank 29/32 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The average age of new entrants in tertiary education in United States is comparatively young. (19.7 Years, rank 30/32 , 2019) Download Indicator


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    General findings
    
                            
    • One in five adults across the OECD has not attained upper secondary education.
    • In 2020, the unemployment rate of adults that had not completed upper secondary education was almost twice as high as those with higher qualifications, and 27% of these adults earn only at or below half the median on average across OECD countries.
    • In 2019, at least 10% of school-aged youth were not in school in about a quarter of OECD countries.
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    • In 2019, women made up 55% of new entrants to tertiary education on average. If current patterns continue, it is expected that 46% of young women will graduate with a tertiary degree for the first time before they turn 30, 15 percentage points more than men.
    • Women also earn on average about 76-78% of men’s salaries regardless of educational attainment, although the gender gap narrowed by 2 percentage points between 2013 and 2019.
    • Women are less likely than men to enter a STEM field of study, and the average share remained generally stable between 2013 and 2019.
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    • On average across countries, expenditure on educational institutions amounted to approximately USD 9 300 per student at pre-primary level; USD 10 500 at primary, secondary and post-secondary non tertiary level; and USD 17 100 at tertiary level.
    • The public sector funds 90% of total expenditure on primary and secondary institutions on average, often compulsory in most OECD countries, compared to 83% at pre-primary level and 66% at tertiary level.
    • In 2018, the OECD countries spent on average 4.9% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on primary to tertiary educational institutions.
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    • In 2019, less than 5% of pre-primary teachers were men, compared to 18% at primary level, 40% at upper secondary level and more than 50% at tertiary level on average.
    • Between 2005 and 2020, on average across OECD countries and economies with available data for all reference years, the statutory salaries of teachers with 15 years of experience and the most prevalent qualifications increased by 3% at primary level, 4% at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 2% at upper secondary level (general programmes).
    • In most countries, teachers above 50 years of age make up more than a third of the teaching force.
    • Attracting male teachers to the profession can be difficult: While the average actual salary of female teachers is equal to or higher than the average salary of other full-time, tertiary-educated women, primary and secondary male teachers earn between 76% and 85% of the average earnings of other full-time, tertiary-educated men.
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    • On average across OECD countries, 87% of children aged 3-5 are enrolled in education on average across OECD countries compared to 25% for children below the age of 3.
    • There are 15 children for every teacher at pre-primary level on average across OECD countries.
    • Half of children enrolled in early childhood development services and a two-thirds of pre-primary children attend public institutions on average across OECD countries
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    Key
    Diagram of funding flows - United States

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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 averages. 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 2021 for more details about the data collections.

    B-S-J-Z (China) refers to the four PISA-participating provinces/municipalities of the People's Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

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