It’s remarkable how similar the U.S. educational system is to our health care system: by world standards, we spend gobs of money on both, and both yield underwhelming outcomes. With health, we’re in a class by ourselves, spending a two-thirds higher share of GDP than the OECD average (a share bigger than any country in the world, by a long shot) to produce some of the worst health indicators in the First World. We’re not so egregious on education. We spend just a third more than the OECD average, the second-highest of any country, to produce merely mediocre scores on internationally comparable tests. But there’s a pattern there, don’t you think?
We’ll take a close look at educational outcomes in the next issue of LBO. For this first pass, let’s examine the dimensions of spending, and the enrollment and attainment numbers.
If nothing else, this article should make you appreciate the complexity and spinnability of international comparisons.