Hey, big spender

The U.S. spends more on education than any OECD country except for Switzerland, according to Veronique de Rugy, a Mercatus Center senior research fellow.  The U.S. spends an average of $91,700 per student between the ages of six and 15, a third more than high-scoring Finland, she estimates.

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  1. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of how this money is spent differently in each country. For example, do the US and Switzerland both spend equally on health care benefits for employees? If not, what is Switzerland spending that extra money on?

    Without more meaningful details, these kinds of charts don’t prove much, in my opinion.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    And we STILL suck!

  3. Depends on how the money is spent – and how money is allocated through the entire economy. Stats, especially monetary stats, need a lot of context.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Or not, depending on the point to be made. For example, there is a school in our area which is practically first in the state in board travel expenses. Big deal, until you find they’re last in educational results.
    Some things you just don’t want (somebody else) to know.

  5. Jeff — right. Health care and pensions are state benefits in those countries and probably aren’t lumped into education costs. I’d find it interesting to see the chart adjusted for that.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    L.S. Effectively, then, the healthcare and pension costs should be added to the costs in other countries. Then they, some of them, would be spending considerably more than the US.
    But not, let me point out, on classroom instruction.
    Maybe we’re getting more for our buck.

  7. Mike in Texas says:

    Let’s not forget that in Finland nearly every teacher belongs to one of those evil teacher unions.

  8. Don’t quite know how those statistics are calculated because the variables per state, cost of living, inflation and the like skew those numbers all over the place. The average California student is valued at about $9,000 a year, although I don’t see much of it in my classroom.

    Let’s also remember that Special Education can easily double how much students take in terms of funding. Second Language Learners also take a lot of funding, as do Free and Reduced meal service.

    It hardly matters. All these country education comparisons are basically bogus ways for pundits to spin political agendas (including Joanne’s charter school push).

    California: Population 37 million, Child Poverty rate- 27% (higher for Latinos), diverse/migrant population
    Finland: Population 5 million, Child Poverty rate- 4%, homogeneous population.

    While this isn’t the only problem in Education, if you take away 85% of the population, nearly annihilate poverty, and make everyone the same race speaking the same language, I could guarantee results in the state of California.

  9. Richard — right — because the top spenders aren’t spending all much less — $20K or $30K a kid is health insurance for one teacher for about half of the child’s education. (I’m going to assume we don’t want to emulate education in Turkey and Mexico.)

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    Lightly, not sure I follow.
    Bennies for a teacher might be $20k-$30k. But the teacher ratio is 20-30 kids.
    Let’s see, now.
    $9k times 30 kids is $270,000. Teacher pay is, in Michigan in a flush district with M+30, $70k. Plus bennies, $100k max. That leaves $170k for everything else. You’d think they could toddle on with $170k/teacher in a district, wouldn’t you?

  11. Coach Brown,

    I took a stab at a rough outline of the money flow/distribution for California K-12 education in a JoanneJacobs post earlier this year. You can find my breakdown in the comments for this post:


    Hope this helps.

  12. I think, according to the chart, the spending levels are spread over 12 years (although after 10 years, your numbers are obviously going to drop off). And you’re forgetting that benefit money needs to cover administration, special ed. aides, the secretaries, the librarians, custodians, etc.