Gender Parity in Schooling Around the World

The world has reached gender parity in schooling and in a few years we will see a schooling ratio in favor of women.  Using UNESCO statistics (more detail here) on school life expectancy, the average country has a parity level of 1.01 in favor of women or, weighting by population, .991.  In other words, at current rates women can be expected to get the same number of years of education as men, as a world average.

Equal life expectancy of schooling on a world level does not mean that all is well – basically we have a relatively small number of countries in which women get much less education than men and a large number of countries in which women get somewhat more education than men.  On the vertical axis in the figure below (click to enlarge) is total life expectancy in school and on the horizontal axis the ratio of female to male life expectancy in school.  The figure tells us a number of interesting things.  First, the largest imbalances are against women and these tend to occur in countries with a low level of total education.  South Korea is an interesting outlier.

Second, in India parity is below 1 and in China it is above 1.  In India female school life expectancy increased by a huge 2.5 years between 2000 and 2007 and the parity ratio increased from .77 to .9 so we can expect the (weighted) world parity level to easily tip over 1 in the next few years (if it has not done so already). The graph suggests that a ratio around 1.09 is the "norm" towards which countries are trending with development.

Interestingly, some of the Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan (no data for 2007-2008 but in 2004 the parity ratio was less than 0.5), are below parity but Qatar and Iran have some of the highest ratios in the world, both above US levels.



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