Discussion Paper 10

Recent developments in selected education indicators and their relation to Europe 2020 targets

Mikkel Barslund

Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels, Belgium



This study looks at the recent development (1998–2009) in the number of years of schooling that a 6-year old can expect to attend until their 30th birthday for the EU-27 countries. All countries have seen an increase in the number of expected years of schooling, which is driven mainly by increased tertiary enrolment rates. At the same time the education gap visà-vis the US has been closed. The dispersion of expected length of education among EU countries has also decreased.  Thus, by this measure, education among countries has become more equal. In spite of this progress, some countries will find it difficult to meet their national targets for tertiary educational attainments for 30–34 year-olds in 2020. This is largely because the tertiary education participation rates of young males have been falling behind those of females in many countries. Focussing on the tertiary educational attainments of 30–34 year-olds leaves governments with little time to
pursue policies with substantial impact. It would be preferable to supplement the educational attainment target for 30–34 year-olds with an enrolment target for 20–24 year-olds.


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Recent developments in selected education indicators and their relation to Europe 2020 targets


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This project is funded by the European Commission, Research Directorate General as part of the 7th Framework Programme, Theme 8: Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities.

Grant Agreement no:244 709

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