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The Narcissism of Minor DifferencesHow Europe and America are Alike$
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Peter Baldwin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391206

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195391206.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 December 2021

Education and the Higher Pursuits

Education and the Higher Pursuits

(p.97) Six Education and the Higher Pursuits
The Narcissism of Minor Differences

Peter Baldwin

Oxford University Press

It Is Generally Recognized that higher education in America is in comparatively good shape, with the main competition coming from the UK. With less than 5% of the world’s population the United States accounts for 40% of global research and development spending, produces 63% of all highly cited scientific publications, employs 70% of the world’s Nobel Prize winners, and is home to three-quarters of both the top 20 and top 40 universities in the world. Spending figures reveal the reasons why. As a proportion of total outlays on universities, government spending is lower in the United States than in any European nation (figure 91). But, as we have seen when looking at overall social spending, monies channeled through the state do not tell the whole story. Total spending on university education in America, measured as a percentage of GDP, is not merely high by European standards. It is some 60% above the nearest competitors, the Scandinavians, and more than twice the level of Germany, a country that once boasted universities as good as any (figure 92). It is worth remembering, too, that the U.S. GDP is itself bigger than Europe’s. Americans therefore not only spend proportionately more on universities. In absolute terms, the gap becomes greater. A higher percentage of Americans have graduated from university than in any European nation. America’s adults are, in this sense, better educated than Europe’s (figure 93). Despite this, the amount of continuing education that Americans undertake is above that of the Germans, Swiss, and Belgians, among the narrower range of countries surveyed in this case. The United States is in the middle of the European pack for state spending on primary and secondary schools, and for overall state educational spending (figure 94). But total educational spending, public and private, measured as a percentage of GDP, remains higher in the United States than anywhere in Europe (figure 95). Primary and secondary school teachers are reasonably well paid by European standards, in the upper middle of the spectrum (figure 96). And proportionately more Americans have graduated from secondary school than in any European country.

Keywords:   Births, Churches, Deutsche Grammophon, Hollywood, Illiteracy, Libraries, Michelin Guide, Nobel Prizes, Opera

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