Monday, January 25, 2010

Postsecondary degrees and the missing generational progress

Yikes! The graph above shows higher education progress for many developed countries, measured by comparing adults in the 25 to 34 group to adults in the 55 to 64 group, and showing the percent in each group who have completed a degree.. The older group shown by the gray x consistently has less education than the younger group shown by the red x. For most countries, it's a big leap. For the United States, there's only been tiny progress.

I've heard summaries of these numbers before, but this one of the best visuals I've seen. I wish I could display it larger, but even with that software problem, I decided it needed sharing. If you click right on the graph, you can see it larger. (For our e-mail readers, first go to and then click.)

Do notice that the percentages shown are too high to be just bachelor's degrees. Associates must also be in the mix, and degrees in other countries are sure to be defined a bit differently we do it here. Still, it's important to see that while we've gotten many more young people into higher education in recent decades, we've done far less well at getting them to completion.

Source: The graph is from the Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success Fact Sheet, available here if you scroll partway down the third column of information.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!