U.S. is big spender on education

The U.S. spends twice as much per student on education as the OECD average, reports BrainTrack.

How Much Do Nations Spend on Students?
From: BrainTrack.com

About Joanne


  1. As has been pointed out before, in other countries health benefits and pensions do not come out of the education budget. It is also significant that the United States has childhood poverty rates that are over twice that found in Canada and many western European nations. In addition, impoverished children in the United States often lack access to basic services such as adequate medical and dental care. This is what happens in a nation in which 80% of the population must try to get by on 7% of the nation’s wealth. Billionaires like the Koch brothers are scrambling to buy politicians who will give tax breaks to the wealthy while cutting services for poor children. It would be much more cost effective to support policies that leave fewer children in poverty. If Canada can do it, there is no reason that the United States could not.

    • Florida resident says:

      Dear Ray !
      You may want to read
      the chapter 6 “The Utopian Sampe” (pp.29-44 of the book
      “Income inequality and IQ” by Charles Murray.)
      Free download of the whole thin book (47 pages) is here:

      Murray shows there that even if one “removes poverty”
      in his statistical study by a brilliant research tool
      (read yourself there)
      and produces, as he names it, “utopian sample”,
      still IQ is statistically the main source of income inequality.
      Respectfully yours, F.r.

    • (1) In most countries, the severely disabled never enter the school system.
      (2) Illegitimacy, particularly among the young and poorly educated and particularly multi-generational, strongly correlates to poverty. Large numbers of poor American kids live in communities where they see no married adults or stable families and where it is not uncommon for doing well in school to be specifically discouraged. It is my understanding that many unmarried European couples stay together and raise their children together, in what is essentially a common-law marriage; a horse of a very different color.
      (3) Canada does not have our illegal immigration situation and specifically manages their immigration policy according to needed education and skills.
      (4) All national health services ration care, if only by making access difficult and time-consuming. This is true of the VA and the Indian Health Service, in this country. Also, medical services like chronic dialysis, correction of musculoskeletal defects, hip/knee replacement and cancer/heart disease treatment are rationed in many places. Britain’s NHS disallowed chronic dialysis for people over 55, when a friend was working there in 1978. Travelling in France and Germany in 2002, I saw young adults with club feet and older adults who would have had total knees/hips here (all on permanent crutches; we talked to them) and our cancer/heart disease survival rates are far better. For prostate cancer, TWICE as high as Britain’s, and breast cancer survival is much higher here.
      (5) Further, child poverty stats are suspect; the goalposts keep moving. Also, some families (see 1, above) make bad choices; logo sneakers and gaming systems over good food choices and dentist visits.

    • Let’s see how all those excuses play on Tuesday.

  2. If the Koch brothers got their wealth solely because of their spectacular IQ’s and not by gaming the system, it is difficult to see why they would go to the trouble of buying politicians to do their bidding, In the 1950’s and 60’s, the United States did not have the extreme income disparities that it has now. Are you really suggesting that people’s IQ’s have changed in such a short time? And is a below average IQ really a reason to deny someone health care? Most poor people work full time. They are poor because they work at jobs that pay extremely low wages and offer no benefits.People who bring in our crops in the field, people who work in nursing homes, these people will live in poverty regardless of how stable their families are. I grew up in Idaho and have Canadian relatives, I know very well that the horror stories mom of 4 describes do not happen there.

    • The only reason the Canadian system “works” is that the vast majority of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border and US facilities have been handling the spillover for decades. Lots of people have emergencies while “vacationing” here; enough that the Canadian government has changed its definition of emergencies to exclude people on waiting lists for procedures. The last time I looked, their wait time for prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery was over 4 months. In my small city, a patient not on blood thinners can be diagnosed and treated within 10-14 days. I’m pretty sure that the Canadians are restricting access to psa testing for older men; if you don’t know you have it, it doesn’t get treated.

      I know an orthopod who practiced in Buffalo in the early 60s and much of his – and his colleagues – practice was Canadian. Within the past few years, I just happened to see a news report of a British Columbia woman, in labor with twins, who had to be flown over the Rockies to the great metropolis of Missoula, MT because there was no Canadian facility with 2 NICU beds. I’m sure she enjoyed the experience. Just a few months later, another Canadian in labor was sent to Grand Forks, ND – again for a NICU bed unavailable in Canada. The next-door-neighbor at our friends’ Ontario hunting/fishing cabin died, several months into a waiting list for cardiac surgery that would have been done here within 2 weeks. The system works for the basics, not so well for advanced and specialized treatment of major, complex problems.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      In the 1950’s and ’60’s the US had very limited social welfare programs. Therefore, social welfare programs cause income inequality.

      Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

      The tired, tired trope of evil billionaires will be tested on Tuesday. I’m betting that the rest of America is as tired of the pathetic, self-stroking, outrage of the “enlightened” as I am. But, then, I vote, many of them apparently don’t.

      • Back then, “health insurance” meant a major medical policy, to cover hospitalization, major illnesses and injuries. Routine doctor visits, ER, x-rays and medications were paid in cash. Even today, no one expects their car insurance to pay for routine maintenance.

  3. Ray,

    So your position is:

    If we just take away the wealth of the productive population, andgive the chronically poor and uneducated even more free stuff they will become sufficently motivated to become productive?

  4. Tuesday’s election won’t have anything to do with these issues – and all the “excuses” are relevant and valid. However, there is legitimate reason to criticize the inefficiency in ed spending. For one, educating all kids the same way for the same length of time. Much could saved by allowing graduation at sixteen with entry into career training. Much can be learned from Europe and Asia.

    • It’s just a wonder that you can get pretty much everything wrong.

      The excuses are just that and they’re the inevitable result of people who’ve never had to have the quality of their work measured and are terrified at the thought, so they come up with all sorts of excuses to both justify the situation to themselves and, hopefully, keep the situation intact for just a little longer.

      Also, inefficiency in education spending isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. The same irresponsibility that’s endemic at the national level works just the same at the school district level. It’s an inevitable result of the political process since political considerations always take precedence over fiscal responsibility. Until the money runs out that is. Example Greece.

      Oh, and if it’s money you want to save then shutting down the idiotic institution of public education would save a darned sight more.

      You are right that much can be learned from Europe and Asia. Most of what can be learned can be learned by observing the direction of the emigration arrow.

      • Wow, someone can’t even somewhat agree with you without you getting all pissy. And we’ve been down the road of you criticizing all teachers as unaccountable – when my test scores and accolades prove you … uneducated to say the least. Lighten up, Francis. I don’t know how to make up for all those hugs you didn’t get.

        • When you have to consciously and deliberately misrepresent what I’ve written, it’s not me that anything’s been proven about.

          Heck, I’ve written in more then a few posts that I feel sorry for teachers, being employed by an institution that’s structurally indifferent to the skill you are purportedly hired to employ. It’s got to be pretty tough on a kid who, coming out of ed school with their shiny, new teaching credential, learns that the skill with which the hope to change the world is treated with utter indifference by their employer.

          Whether you learn your craft well or not at all is of no importance to your employer who only values your ability to defuse any crisis that might inconvenience your superiors. That’s got to be a pretty tough lesson to learn and explains rather more believably the reason for the horrendous turn-over rate among teachers then the reasons proffered by apologists for the public education system.

          So you know, as do I, that your test scores and accolades are professionally irrelevant. The only people who really care, and who might ask specifically for you, are parents and they don’t matter except as an excuse for why their kids don’t learn.

          I’d ask you to reflect on why you’re reduced to name-calling and dismissiveness but experience has taught me that’s a fool’s errand.

  5. I can’t be the only one here who finds the “infographic” format anything but informative.

  6. It should also be pointed out that a probably-not-insignificant percentage of our ed costs (even excluding admin) is spent on extracurriculars. Outside of (possibly) Canada Australia & New Zealand, most countries do not have extracurriculars run by the school. Sports and other activities are totally separate.

  7. cranberry says:

    The graph’s nearly useless, as it doesn’t explain the breakdown of expenditures. I think I found the document from which BrainTrack’s employees drew the info: http://www.oecd.org/education/highereducationandadultlearning/48630868.pdf.

    From the first few pages, “education” = primary, secondary, and tertiary education. In tertiary education, R & D is a significant factor. (For example, Argentina, China and the Slovak Republic spend $6,560 or less per student on tertiary education, while the US, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland spend $20,000 per student.)

    The US is actually one of the countries whose expenditures per student have been _falling_ between 2000 and 2008, as enrollment increased, but expenditures did not.

    So, the graph’s misleading at best, but on the happy side, the OECD chapter on education is fairly interesting.

    • Ponderosa says:

      I bet most countries don’t spend nearly as much on technology as we do. Free marketeers bash public schools for succumbing to their sales onslaught.

  8. And yet, we are still losing people left and right to ignorance and laziness. Maybe we should spend less on the people who don’t want an education.