Expenditure on education as % of total government expenditure (all sectors)

Definition

Total general (local, regional and central) government expenditure on education (current, capital, and transfers), expressed as a percentage of total general government expenditure on all sectors (including health, education, social services, etc.). It includes expenditure funded by transfers from international sources to government.

Data source

Data on education expenditure is received by country governments responding to UIS's annual survey on formal education. The data used to fill the questionnaire on education expenditure may come from annual financial reports by the Ministry of Finance and/or the Ministry of Education, and/or national accounts reports by the National Statistical Office. Data on total general government expenditure (all sectors) comes from the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook database and is updated once a year.

Calculation method

Divide total government expenditure for a given level of education (ex. primary, secondary, or all levels combined) by total general government expenditure (all sectors), and multiply by 100.

Interpretation

A higher percentage of government expenditure on education shows a high government priority for education relative to other public investments. When interpreting this indicator however, one should keep in mind that some governments have more (or less) means and therefore larger (or smaller) overall budgets, and that countries with younger populations may spend more on education in relation to other sector such as health or social security, and vice-versa.

Limitations

In some instances data on total public expenditure on education refers only to the Ministry of Education, excluding other ministries which may also spend a part of their budget on educational activities. Also, although the IMF makes best efforts to publish data on total general government expenditure following common definitions based on the Government Finance Statistics Manual, in practice this concept (and what it includes) may differ from one country to the other.

Purpose

To assess a government's emphasis on education relative to its investments in other sectors. This indicator is useful to assess how much of a priority education is for a given government, over time or in comparison with other countries.

Types of disaggregation

By level of education.