Skip to main content

The FRED® Blog

Comparing quality of education in the United States and China Penn World Tables reveal China's great leaps toward the U.S.


An economy’s long-term growth prospects depend on many factors, including the education of its workers. One measure of a country’s quality of education is the index of human capital from the Penn World Tables. This index combines years of schooling and returns to education, and it can be used to rank and evaluate the quality of education in each country.

The graph traces the evolution of the index of human capital per person for the United States and China from 1950 to 2014. Two patterns emerge:

  1. The index of human capital has been consistently lower in China than in the United States during the entire period.
  2. In both countries, the index has increased, reflecting an increase in the quality of the education; however, the increase has been more pronounced in China than in the United States. In particular, from 1952 to 2014, the index has increased by a factor of 1.42 in the United Sates and a factor of 2.22 in China.

We may expect this trend to continue in China, whose 13th Five-Year Plan for 2016-2020 includes the goal of promoting education by encouraging the entrepreneurship and innovation abilities of students and developing continuous education in China.

How this graph was created: Search for “Index of Human Capital per Person for United States” and choose the series you want. The add line 2 to the existing graph by clicking the “Edit Graph” button and using the “Add Line” tab to search “Index of Human Capital per Person for China.” Finally, go to the “Format” tab within “Edit Graph,” and select “Dash” under Line 1’s line style and select “Right” for line 2 Y-axis position.

Suggested by Ana Maria Santacreu.

View on FRED, series used in this post: hciyiscna066nrug, hciyisusa066nrug


Subscribe to the FRED newsletter


Follow us

Twitter logo Google Plus logo Facebook logo YouTube logo LinkedIn logo
Back to Top