The High Cost of Low Educational Performance – The Long-Run Economic Impact of Improving PISA Outcomes

While governments frequently commit to improving the quality of education, it often slips down the policy agenda. Because investing in education only pays off in the future, it is possible to underestimate the value and the importance of improvements.

This report uses recent economic modelling to relate cognitive skills – as measured by PISA and other international instruments – to economic growth, demonstrating that relatively small improvements to labour force skills can largely impact the future well-being of a nation.

The report also shows that it is the quality of learning outcomes, not the length of schooling, which makes the difference. A modest goal of all OECD countries boosting their average PISA scores by 25 points over the next 20 years would increase OECD gross domestic product by USD 115 trillion over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010. More aggressive goals could result in gains in the order of USD 260 trillion.

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