2021 September Update: The new update of the Barro-Lee data set is now available.

Barro-Lee Estimates of Educational Attainment for the Population Aged 15-64 from 1950 to 2015

This is the latest updated version of the Barro-Lee dataset reported in Barro and Lee (2013). Dr. Hanol Lee, an associate professor at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, has collaborated on the project.

The main aim of this new version is to construct estimates of educational attainment for the population between 15 and 64 years old for the year of 2015. The estimates are disaggregated by gender and by 10-year age group, whereas those in the original dataset were disaggregated by 5-year age group. This is due to the limited availability of disaggregated statistics in the newly complied census/survey data. The methodology to construct the estimates for the year of 2015 is as follows:

  • We collect new census/survey figures on educational attainment of the population for 2015 (or a near year). They include a total of 96 observations among the sample of 146 countries. The census/survey data are compiled from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics, United Nations (UN) demographic yearbook, Eurostat, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and national statistics agencies. The following table provides detailed information on the source of the observations.
  • The data availability (i.e., structure of the census/survey figures) varies by the source. The Eurostat and UN demographic yearbook report the distribution of educational attainment for the population between 15 and 64, which can be disaggregated by 10-year age groups. On the other hand, OECD database presents the distribution of educational attainment for the population aged 25-64, disaggregated by age groups. UNESCO reports only aggregate statistics for the population aged 25 and over. Most census/survey figures report the distribution of educational attainment by schooling level following the UNESCO’s “International Standard Classification of Education” (ISCED)—that is, four broad-level classifications—no formal education, primary, secondary, and tertiary education—and then the breakdown of primary, secondary, and tertiary education into subcategories. But Eurostat and OECD provide numbers only a combination of several categories.
  • We fill in missing observations in all 20 categories (5 age groups × 4 education levels) for each country for the year of 2015 to construct complete estimates of educational attainment for the population aged 15-64 from 1950 to 2015, disaggregated by 10-year age groups (15-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64). We first fill in the missing observations at four broad classifications by adopting the ‘forward extrapolation method’ which uses the census/survey figures in 2010 or an earlier year as a benchmark. We then apply estimates of completion ratios to break down the estimate in broad categories and fill in the observations that are missing in subcategories.
  • We use the updated information on school enrollment ratios, drop-out ratio, and population structure for the estimation of educational attainment of the population.

We combine these updated estimates for 2015 with the original Barro-Lee data set from 1950 to 2010 and present a new data set of educational attainment for the population aged 15-64 from 1950 to 2015, disaggregated by 10-year age groups (15-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64).

  • We also collect 7 new censuses on educational attainment of the population for earlier years from the UN Demographic Yearbook. They consist of two countries in 2005 (Egypt and New Zealand), and five countries in 2010 (Argentina, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Saudi Arabia). In addition, we collect 3 new observations for Iceland in 2000, 2005 and 2010 from Eurostat. Accordingly, we revise the original Barro-Lee estimates for these countries through backward extrapolation incorporating these newly available censuses. Information from these censuses is also utilized for the estimation of the figure for 2015 through forward extrapolation, when necessary.

Note: The dataset below includes the revised estimates for USA in 2015. The new estimates are based on the US Current Population Survey (CPS) in 2015. The earlier version (released on September 2021) included the US estimates in 2015 based on the OECD source. The revised data for the USA is here.

Data

Download full data set (146 countries) for the Population aged 15-64, aged 25-64 or by 10-year age group in 10-year interval (1950-2015) in xls, csv, or dta format.

Education Attainment for Population Aged 15-64

Total population

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Female population

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Male population

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Education Attainment for Population Aged 25-64

Total population

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Female population

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Male population

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Education Attainment by Age Group

Total population

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Female population

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Male population

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