Sunday, January 11, 2015
Quick Data Note: Based on a Facebook conversation about U.S. college attendance, I looked at OECD data for 2000-2012 to see how the U.S. compared to other high-income countries. While our average annual university graduate rate per capita is slightly above the OECD average for this time period (3.0%, compared to 2.5% per year in a 30-country average), the growth rate of the percent of graduates per year is far below average. From 2000-2005, compared to 2006-2012, the US tertiary education (all programs, including advanced research programs) graduation growth rates were 17.6%, compared to the OECD average of 27.4%). This implies that while we continue to produce university graduates per year at a slightly greater rate than average, that rate is dropping dramatically--almost half the rate of the average high-income country, and we are close to the bottom of the pack. Here is a chart of 15 countries compared. Given that U.S. university costs are between 2-3x the average for the high-income countries, most of which provide tertiary education completely free for their citizens, it is not unreasonable to suggest that our college graduation rates will continue to decline, unless we implement measures to dramatically reduce college costs, putting us at a further global economic disadvantage.