Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mostly because I like poking holes in this one: education around the world

Some years ago, I took a graph of educational attainment amongst the G-8, blanked out the names, and posted it on an internet community, and had people guess which countries they represented. For the most part, people guessed that the United States was the country with the lowest education, while a number of Western European nations had the highest education.
It was actually America with the most education, or at least up there.
Conservatives and liberals like to create a dichotomy between the United States and Western Europe that does not actually exist quite so much, as far as I can operationalize. Liberals believe that Western Europe is an enlightened land of socialism and the United States is a country of knuckle-dragging idiots, while Conservatives believe the United States is the last bastion of capitalism against the socialist realms of Europe. The truth is, the US and Western Europe (with "Western Europe" including Australia, Japan and Canada, of course) are market-driven countries with large social welfare programs.
Someday, I will give you some operational proof of that last statement.
Anyway, education wise, I guess American tourists go to Paris and meet lots of educated people, and assume everyone in France is educated.
That is not even what today's graph is about: today's graph is just about years of education versus college attainment. These are, (as you know by now) related, but not as related as you might guess. As we showed with the United States, its possible for an area to have a high amount of high school graduates, but a low or medium amount of college graduates.So, as could be believed, they are related, but not extremely strongly.
Also, I took this data from Notice that not all the dots on there are named. The dot next to Norway is New Zealand, but it could be Madagascar or Costa Rica for all you know. This is why I like using the states of the US: they are easy to define. No trouble to decide what nations are comparable.

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