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The next time someone argues that the United States spends too much to educate its children, you can point to Luxembourg. The tiny European country spends $17,500 to educate each of the students in its public schools.
You can also point to Cuba: The island nation spends a whopping 18.7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education.
The United States doesn’t rank nearly as high in either category.
In fact, several countries, many of them surprising, spend more on education than does the United States. Here’s a quick look at what the world spends to educate its students:
Cuba leads the way in how much of its GDP it devotes to education. Behind it, though, is second-place finisher Uzbekistan, which spends 12 percent of its GDP on education. Rounding out the top five are Vanuatu, 11 percent; Lesotho, 10.4 percent; St. Vincent & the Grenadines, 10 percent; Yemen, 9.5 percent; Brunei, 9.1 percent; Mongolia, 9 percent; Denmark, 8.5 percent; and Guyana, 8.1 percent.
Of course, percent of gross domestic product isn’t the only way to measure a country’s financial commitment to education. The amount of money a country spends for every student is another useful measure of the worth it places on education.
In that category, Luxembourg, with its $17,500 per student, tops the list. It easily outdistances second-place finisher Norway, which spends $13,700 on every student.
Coming in third is Denmark, which spends $11,950 per student. Other high finishers include Switzerland, $11,200; Austria, $9,940; and Sweden, $9,250.
And where does the United States come in? At seventh place, actually. The United States spends $9,060 on each of its students. That’s not terrible, of course, but it’s hardly at the top of the list when it comes to committing to education.
Behind the United States is Iceland, which spends $8,730 on its students, and the Netherlands, $8,567. Finland rounds out the top 10. It spends $7,911 on each of its students.
The United States doesn’t fare so well, either, in the percentage of its GDP that it spends on education. The country spends only about 3 percent of its GDP to educate its students.
Of course, the United States is far from alone. Russia spends a similar percentage of its GDP on education, as do Peru, Egypt, Turkey, Nigeria and Mozambique.
Several countries spend a smaller percentage of their GDP on education. This list includes Uruguay, Angola, Tanzania, China and North Korea.
Which countries are the big spenders when it comes to GDP and education? That’d be Venezuela, Namibia, Greenland and Mongolia, all of which spend more than 9 percent of their GDP on education.