Wednesday, February 25, 2009

About That Competition Thing ...

Kevin Carey, as usual, makes really excellent points on the Quick and the Ed about the education stuff I posted about here. His point is slightly different, although he does touch on the graduation rate stuff, and he focuses more on the competition component of Obama's speech. Our goal, Obama said, should be to have the greatest proportion of college graduates in the world. Carey grounds this statement effectively:
If we want to be #1 in the percent of adults age 25-64 with a bachelor's degree, that won't be too hard, because we currently trail only Norway, 31% to 30%.

If we want to be #1 in the percent of adults 25-34 with a bachelor's degree, it will be much harder. We're still at 30% on that measure--educational attainment in the U.S. has been steady for a long time--but Norway is at 40%, the Netherlands 34%, Korea 33%, Denmark 32%, and Sweden 31%, Israel 30%. This is the trend that has everyone so worried--the difference between the two age cohorts shows that we used to be much better than everyone else (we're far ahead in the 55-64 age bracket), but other countries have since caught up and moved ahead.

In terms of the percent of adults 25-64 with a bachelor's or associates degree, we're #3 at 39%, behind Canada (47%) and Japan (40%). In the 25-34 cohort, however, we're 12th (also 39%), and some countries like Canada, Japan, and Korea are so far ahead (55%, 54%, 53%) that catching up in eleven years is unrealistic.

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