About 50% of U.S. adults 25 to 64 have a postsecondary degree; but Canada ranks way higher

By: - June 14, 2022 5:07 pm

University of Toronto. Credit: Wikipedia.

In the age group of 25 to 64, about 50 percent of Americans have attained a postsecondary degree, placing the United States 5th among 37 select countries. That’s up from 42 percent in 2010.

Canada, our U.S. northern neighbor, has the highest figure — 60 percent, as of 2020. In 2010, it was already at 50 percent.

The data comes from an annual report called The Condition of Education, which has a large collection of different data points to outline the status of education in the United States. The report also compares the U.S. to other countries.

The average for the postsecondary attainment data is 39 percent in 2020, up from 30 percent in 2010.

The postsecondary attainment data show the growth of people in certain countries earning an associate-level degree or higher. That would mean a two-year degree, four-year degree, postgraduate degrees and other academic achievements.

In the top data point on postsecondary attainment, next is Luxembourg, a much smaller country compared to the U.S. and Canada, with 51 percent of adults in that age range earning a postsecondary degree in 2020, up from 35 percent ten years ago.

Then it’s the Republic of Korea, or South Korea, with at 51 percent in 2020, up from 39 percent in 2010.

The report notes: “Although rounded numbers are displayed the figures are based on unrounded data,” which is how countries with the same percentage of postsecondary degree attainment are ranked higher or lower.

Then, fourth is Israel, with 50 percent of that age group attaining a postsecondary degree in 2020, up from 46 percent in 2010.

The 37 countries analyzed in the report are all within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, also called OECD nations. The OECD is an intergovernmental organization which claims to be committed to the “values of democracy” and believe in “in open and transparent market economy principles.”

There are some quirks with this data report, such as incomplete data for certain countries.

Colombia only has data from 2020, with 25 percent of adults aged 25 to 64 attaining a postsecondary degree. Same case for New Zealand with 40 percent of that age range getting a postsecondary degree in 2020.

But the opposite data gap occurred with Japan, Denmark and Turkey, with the report only having 2010 data for these countries. In 2010, Japan had 45 percent of adults aged 25 to 64 earn a postsecondary degree. For Denmark, 33 percent, and Turkey, 13 percent in 2010.

Chile is excluded from the report because the data is not available for either year.

Of the countries with both data points reported, the country with the lowest percent of adults earning a postsecondary degree in that age category is Mexico, at 19 percent in 2020 and 15 percent in 2010. Italy is the next lowest, with 20 percent in 2020, up from 15 percent in 2010.

The National Center for Education Statistics released The Condition of Education 2022 earlier in June to capture what’s going in the United States’ education system through a variety of statistics and analyses. The education data comes from federal sources such as the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as international data collections.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.