The U.S. Falls Behind in Global Education Economy


A recent report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that the U.S. is sending a smaller percentage of students to college than at least 46 different nations. Additionally, enrollment in preschool has fallen in the U.S. and has exploded internationally. In fact:  The more than 500-page report analyzed the education systems of 46 nations and highlighted long-term trends from preschool to Ph.D. programs. “The U.S. hasn’t backslid, but other countries have made big gains,” said OECD Education Director Andreas Schleicher.

Some of the astounding figures the report states are:

  • The U.S. dropped from second to fifth in the percentage of adults with some form of college education.
  • The U.S. percentage of 25-34 year olds with a college education is 46 percent which is well short of the goal for the U.S. to be first internationally in this category.
  • In the United States only 41 percent of 3-year-olds and 66 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschools, which is the lowest of the 46 nations in this study.

Another interesting comparison is in the realm of assessment. For the first time the OECD compiled data on how much students are tested in various countries. Despite popular impression that U.S. school children are tested too much, Schleicher said many countries give their students even more tests.

For the full report, see the analysis of Education at a Glance (2015).

For a United States specific summary, see Education at a Glance (2015) United States.