Percentage of College Graduates in Total Population

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) has just released data regarding the “tertiary education graduation rates” based on the “percentage of graduates to the population at the typical age of graduation.”

 The percentages run from 2000 – 2007. So, for example, in the Czech Republic the percentage of college  graduates as part of the general population was only 13.8% in 2000 but then soared to 34.9% in 2007.

The United States was relatively flat: 34.4% in 2000 with a slight increase to 36.5% by 2007.  For comparison’s sake, hallowed Finland moved from 40.8% to 48.5% and Japan started at 29.4% and moved to 38.8%. Among the 25 nations included in the analysis, in 2007 15 countries achieved higher percentages than the U.S. and  9 had percentages below.  Outliers were Iceland, with a 63.1% graduation rate in 2007 and Turkey with 15.2% in 2006.

It’s unwise to get too carried away with these figures, any more than it’s wise to flaunt Finland – with its relatively homogeneous population and teacher pool filled with top college graduates – as a model for the US.  One note: only three nations demonstrated as small a growth in the percentage of college  graduates as the U.S.: the United Kingdom , Spain, and New Zealand, although the latter one started off at 50.3% and dropped slightly to 47.6%, much higher than typical scores and statistically less significant a drop.