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Education and skills have a strong influence on people's well‐being. Education opens opportunities for people and brings a wide range of benefits to society, including higher economic growth, stronger social cohesion and less crime. By investing in education, families and governments can reach many economic and social goals at the same time. This chapter considers a few wellestablished educational indicators that provide a basic picture of both the current educational status of the adult population and selected skills of youth, skills needed to undertake the broad range of activities essential to life in modern society. This chapter finds that education has increased substantially over the past few decades, with countries converging towards a similar level of educational attainment. However, strong disparities remain in the quality of educational outcomes, as measured by the reading and civic skills of students. Despite the free availability of school services in many countries, educational attainment and students' skills are strongly influenced by the incomes and socio‐economic backgrounds of their families, with educational disadvantage cumulating over the life course. This suggests that educational inequalities should be tackled as early as possible in life.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: October 1, 2011


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