Leibniz Association: Young people without education

Two-thirds of young people worldwide do not achieve basic skills that should be taught in school. This is the result of a new study by the Ifo Institute. “These are frightening numbers,” says Ludger Wößmann, head of the ifo Center for Educational Economics. In Germany the proportion is 23.8 percent, in Austria 24.6 and in Switzerland 21.9 percent, but in Estonia, for example, only 10.5 percent. “All in all, the world is missing out on economic output of over 700 trillion dollars over the remaining century,” says ifo researcher Sarah Gust.

It ranges from 24 percent in North America and the European Union to 89 percent in South Asia and 94 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. In 101 countries the share is over 50 percent and in 36 countries even over 90 percent.

“The world is extremely far from achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” says Woessmann. “The reason this is so tragic is that education is not only important for personal destiny, but is the most important long-term contributor to economic growth, and not roads, railroads or fiber optic connections.”

For the new study, the researchers at the ifo Center for Educational Economics, together with Eric A. Hanushek from Stanford University, brought individual student data from numerous international and regional performance tests in mathematics and natural sciences to a comparable global measurement scale. Basic skills are defined with the lowest PISA competence level 1. This includes, for example, solving simple and clear routine tasks, but not being able to use the simplest formulas, derive conclusions or interpret results.


“Global Universal Basic Skills: Current Deficits and Implications for World Development” by Sarah Gust, Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Wößmann in: CESifo Working Paper No. 10029; can be found here: https://www.cesifo.org/en/publications/2022/working-paper/global-universal-basic-skills-current-deficits-and-implications

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Ifo Institute press release

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