A new guidebook published by the World Bank and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) casts light on how to measure the heavy burden of education spending that falls on the world’s families. Measuring Household Expenditure on Education: A Guidebook for Designing Household Survey Questionnaires will help countries report on SDG 4 indicator 4.5.4: education expenditure per student by level of education and source of funding. The guidebook also aims to ensure proper representation of education expenditures in consumption-based poverty and inequality measures, and enable more micro-econometric research on resource allocation in households.
The burden of education spending by families
We already know that the burden on families can be heavy. UIS data released in 2017 found that families in low-income countries pay more for their children’s education: households in many developing countries spend a far greater share of average GDP per capita on education than those in developed countries. Household spending on secondary education amounts to 20-25% of average GDP per person in Benin, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger, and more than 30% in Togo. In stark contrast, the share does not exceed 5% in almost all high-income countries.
The data also reveal that families—including the poorest—are providing much of the world’s education spending. For example, households provide about one-quarter of education expenditure in Viet Nam, one-third in Côte d’Ivoire, half in Nepal, and more than half in Uganda.