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What Are the Most Educated Countries in the World?


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its Education at a Glance 2012 report, and two of its conclusions jumped out at us: 1) countries that spend more on education tend to have more highly educated populations, and 2) the more educated you are, the more likely you are to be employed.

While that may not sound too surprising, it’s an important reminder of just how valuable education is in the current globalized economy—especially following a calamity like the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent recession that America is still ever-so-slowly recovering from.

Taken as a whole, the report is a good indicator of which countries are the most educated, and, helpfully, the OECD showed us how they made those determinations.

They found that countries with greater educational budgets typically make up the majority of educated society, with countries like the Canada, Israel and Japan ranking as the first, second and third most educated countries, respectively. Interestingly, although the United States spends more money on education than any other country on the list, it ranked just fourth in this year’s top 10.

Overall, higher education levels clearly correlated with lower unemployment levels during the economic downturn, according to the OECD, with the unemployment rate in 2010 averaging 12.5 percent for those with only a high school education compared with just 4.7 percent for those with a college degree.

The Most Educated Countries in the World

  1. Canada: 51 percent of its population has a college degree or equivalent
  2. Israel: 46 percent
  3. Japan: 45 percent
  4. United States: 42 percent
  5. New Zealand: 41 percent
  6. South Korea: 40 percent
  7. United Kingdom: 38 percent
  8. Finland: 38 percent
  9. Australia: 38 percent
  10. Ireland: 37 percent

[NBC News via OECD]

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