Learning for earning – the links between learning and economic growth

On 10 June 2014, Andreas Schleicher, a Special Advisor on Education Policy to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) Secretary-General and Deputy Director for Education, gave a seminar to DFID education advisors in London. The presentation he gave explored how economic development can contribute to eradicating poverty. He argued that education is key to economic development. There is a clear need for governments and development partners to give learning outcomes a greater emphasis in strategies for economic development. It will also be important to monitor and assess student learning and achievement levels in order to realise which areas need improving.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 economies have participated in the assessment. OECD’s analysis of PISA results has shown long term economic impact of improving learning levels. Andreas argues that an increase in one standard deviation in scores on PISA’s assessments of reading and maths achievement levels can be linked to a 2% increase in annual growth of GDP per capita.

This short video shows the presentation:

The slides from the presentation can be downloaded here.

An MP3 podcast of the presentation can be downloaded here. To save the MP3 to your computer, right click on the link, then select ‘Save…’.

Key resource

In 2010, Hanushek and Woessmann published a paper titled ‘The High Cost of Low Educational Performance – The Long-Run Economic Impact of Improving PISA Outcomes’. They argue that although many governments are quick to commit to improving the quality of education, it often is not high on the policy agenda, as investing in it only pays off in the future. Using economic modelling to relate cognitive skills – as measured by PISA and other international instruments – to economic growth, the results illustrate 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.

Speaker biography

Andreas Schleicher is a Special Advisor on Education Policy to OECD’s Secretary-General and Deputy Director for Education. He also provides strategic oversight over OECD’s work on the development and utilisation of skills and their social and economic outcomes. This includes the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) and the development and analysis of benchmarks on the performance of education systems (INES). Before joining the OECD, he was Director for Analysis at the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA). He studied Physics in Germany and received a degree in Mathematics and Statistics in Australia. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the “Theodor Heuss” prize, awarded in the name of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany for “exemplary democratic engagement”. He holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Heidelberg.

Twitter links

Andreas Schleicher – @SchleicherEDU

OECD Education – @OECD_Edu

HEART Resources – @HEART_RES


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