Sunday, December 28, 2008

Global Education Digest 2008

Cover of the Global Education Digest 2008The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has announced the publication of the Global Education Digest 2008: Comparing Education Statistics Across the World. This annual publication contains detailed statistical tables with the latest UIS data on pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary education, education finance and literacy.

The introductory chapters in the this year's edition of the Digest discuss the data collection process at UIS, the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) and differences between national and international education data, the use of historical time series to track educational trends, and programs of cooperation between UIS and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat).

The Global Education Digest 2008 contains several tables that were not available in the 2007 edition. New tables with time series data provide statistics for more than 200 countries and territories from 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2005 for the following indicators: primary and secondary school age; population of secondary school age (the population of primary school age is available at the UIS Data Centre, see below); enrollment in primary, secondary and post-secondary education; total enrollment from primary to tertiary education; primary and secondary school gross enrollment ratio (GER); primary school gross intake ratio; gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school (a proxy indicator for the primary completion rate); repetition rate in primary and secondary school; school life expectancy (primary to secondary and primary to tertiary); pupil/teacher ratio in primary and secondary school; and public expenditure on education.

A further addition in the new publication is a set of tables with data for 62 UOE and WEI countries. UOE refers to a joint data collection program by UIS, OECD and Eurostat in high- and middle-income countries. WEI stands for World Education Indicators, a UIS program for middle-income countries. The participating countries are listed on pages 30 and 31 of the Global Education Digest 2008.

The data from the tables in the Global Education Digest can be downloaded from the UIS Data Centre (click on "Predefined Tables" and then "Education"). The time series data for the years 1970 to 2005 are available in Excel format in Tables 21 to 23. The population of primary school age between 1970 and 2005 is not shown in the printed report but included in Table 21. In addition, the Data Centre offers annual data for the years 1999 to 2008, while the Digest only shows data for one or two years, depending on the indicator.

  • UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). 2008. Global education digest 2008: Comparing education statistics across the world. Montreal: UIS. (Download PDF, 7.3 MB)
  • UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). 2007. Global education digest 2007: Comparing education statistics across the world. Montreal: UIS. (Download PDF, 3.7 MB)
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Friedrich Huebler, 28 December 2008 (edited 31 July 2009), Creative Commons License
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Education and democracy

Democratic government and the level of education in a country tend to be highly correlated. Seymour Lipset described this link in his article "Some social requisites of democracy: Economic development and political legitimacy."
"Education presumably broadens man's outlook, enables him to understand the need for norms of tolerance, restrains him from adhering to extremist doctrines, and increases his capacity to make rational electoral choices. ... The higher one's education, the more likely one is to believe in democratic values and support democratic practices. ... If we cannot say that a 'high' level of education is a sufficient condition for democracy, the available evidence suggests that it comes close to being a necessary one." (Lipset 1959: 79-80)
The correlation between education and democracy can be demonstrated with data on the school life expectancy from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the democracy index from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The democracy index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. The methodology is explained in the full report from the EIU. The EIU calculated the democracy index for 167 countries and territories and placed them within four types of regime, depending on the index score.
  1. Full democracies (score 8-10): 30 countries
  2. Flawed democracies (score 6-7.9): 50 countries
  3. Hybrid regimes (score 4-5.9): 36 countries
  4. Authoritarian regimes (score below 4): 51 countries
The school life expectancy, obtained from the UIS Data Centre, is the total number of years of schooling a child can expect to receive. For 9 of the 167 countries rated by the EIU no data on the school life expectancy were available: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, North Korea, Montenegro, Papua New Guinea, Saudia Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Turkmenistan.

The values for the 158 countries with data are plotted in the graph below. The school life expectancy is plotted along the horizontal axis and the EIU democracy index along the vertical axis. All countries are identified with their ISO alpha-3 codes.

National school life expectancy and EIU democracy index
Scatter plot with school life expectancy and EIU democracy index
Data source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Economist Intelligence Unit.

The graph shows that increasing school life expectancy is generally associated with a higher EIU democracy index. The average school life expectancy is 16.1 years for full democracies, 12.8 years for flawed democracies, 9.8 years for hybrid regimes, and 9.6 years for authoritarian regimes.

Average school life expectancy by regime type
Regime type School life expectancy (years)
Full democracies 16.1
Flawed democracies 12.8
Hybrid regimes 9.8
Authoritarian regimes 9.6
Data source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Economist Intelligence Unit.

Among authoritarian regimes the school life expectancy has a wider spread than among the other three types of regime. Two countries with authoritarian regimes, Cuba (democracy index 3.5, school life expectancy 16.1 years) and Libya (democracy index 2.0, school life expectancy 16.5 years), match or exceed the average school life expectancy in full democracies.

In contrast, no full democracy except Costa Rica (democracy index 8.0, school life expectancy 11.7 years) has a school life expectancy below 13.5 years. This observation supports Lipset's argument that a high level of education is a necessary condition for democracy.

  • Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1959. Some social requisites of democracy: Economic development and political legitimacy. American Political Science Review 53 (1), March: 69-105.
  • Economist Intelligence Unit. 2008. The Economist Intelligence Unit's index of democracy 2008. October. (Download PDF, 536 KB)
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Friedrich Huebler, 20 December 2008 (edited 21 December 2008), Creative Commons License
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