Index of cognitive skills and educational attainment

A to Z Overall Index rank and score Cognitive skills rank and score Educational Attainment rank and score
Flag for South KoreaSouth Korea [Rank 1]1.30 [Rank 2]1.35 [Rank 1]1.19
Flag for JapanJapan [Rank 2]1.03 [Rank 4]1.20 [Rank 6]0.70
Flag for SingaporeSingapore [Rank 3]0.99 [Rank 1]1.65 [Rank 33]-0.33*
Flag for Hong Kong-ChinaHong Kong-China [Rank 4]0.96 [Rank 3]1.34 [Rank 18]0.20*
Flag for FinlandFinland [Rank 5]0.92 [Rank 5]0.99 [Rank 4]0.79
Flag for United KingdomUnited Kingdom [Rank 6]0.67 [Rank 8]0.52 [Rank 2]0.96
Flag for CanadaCanada [Rank 7]0.60 [Rank 6]0.77 [Rank 15]0.25
Flag for NetherlandsNetherlands [Rank 8]0.58 [Rank 7]0.57 [Rank 7]0.58
Flag for IrelandIreland [Rank 9]0.51 [Rank 10]0.49 [Rank 10]0.55
Flag for PolandPoland [Rank 10]0.50 [Rank 16]0.33 [Rank 3]0.85
Flag for DenmarkDenmark [Rank 11]0.46 [Rank 17]0.32 [Rank 5]0.75
Flag for GermanyGermany [Rank 12]0.41 [Rank 12]0.48 [Rank 14]0.28
Flag for RussiaRussia [Rank 13]0.40 [Rank 9]0.50 [Rank 21]0.19*
Flag for United StatesUnited States [Rank 14]0.39 [Rank 11]0.49 [Rank 20]0.19
Flag for AustraliaAustralia [Rank 15]0.38 [Rank 13]0.43 [Rank 13]0.29
Flag for New ZealandNew Zealand [Rank 16]0.35 [Rank 21]0.23 [Rank 8]0.57*
Flag for IsraelIsrael [Rank 17]0.30 [Rank 14]0.35 [Rank 22]0.18*
Flag for BelgiumBelgium [Rank 18]0.28 [Rank 15]0.33 [Rank 18]0.20*
Flag for Czech RepublicCzech Republic [Rank 19]0.27 [Rank 20]0.28 [Rank 16]0.25
Flag for SwitzerlandSwitzerland [Rank 20]0.25 [Rank 23]0.20 [Rank 12]0.35
Flag for NorwayNorway [Rank 21]0.21 [Rank 27]0.02 [Rank 9]0.57
Flag for HungaryHungary [Rank 22]0.17 [Rank 19]0.28 [Rank 24]-0.04
Flag for FranceFrance [Rank 23]0.17 [Rank 18]0.29 [Rank 26]-0.07*
Flag for SwedenSweden [Rank 24]0.17 [Rank 25]0.15 [Rank 17]0.22
Flag for ItalyItaly [Rank 25]0.11 [Rank 24]0.20 [Rank 27]-0.08
Flag for AustriaAustria [Rank 26]0.10 [Rank 22]0.22 [Rank 29]-0.13
Flag for SlovakiaSlovakia [Rank 27]0.09 [Rank 29]-0.14 [Rank 11]0.54
Flag for PortugalPortugal [Rank 28]0.04 [Rank 26]0.13 [Rank 30]-0.14
Flag for SpainSpain [Rank 29]-0.08 [Rank 28]-0.09 [Rank 25]-0.06
Flag for BulgariaBulgaria [Rank 30]-0.26 [Rank 30]-0.39 [Rank 23]0.01*
Flag for RomaniaRomania [Rank 31]-0.44 [Rank 31]-0.62 [Rank 28]-0.08*
Flag for ChileChile [Rank 32]-0.79 [Rank 34]-1.06 [Rank 32]-0.26
Flag for GreeceGreece [Rank 33]-0.86 [Rank 33]-0.83 [Rank 35]-0.93
Flag for TurkeyTurkey [Rank 34]-0.94 [Rank 32]-0.68 [Rank 38]-1.46
Flag for ThailandThailand [Rank 35]-1.16 [Rank 35]-1.09 [Rank 37]-1.30*
Flag for ColombiaColombia [Rank 36]-1.25 [Rank 36]-1.56 [Rank 34]-0.64*
Flag for ArgentinaArgentina [Rank 37]-1.49 [Rank 40]-2.14 [Rank 31]-0.20*
Flag for BrazilBrazil [Rank 38]-1.73 [Rank 39]-2.06 [Rank 36]-1.08*
Flag for MexicoMexico [Rank 39]-1.76 [Rank 38]-1.78 [Rank 39]-1.73
Flag for IndonesiaIndonesia [Rank 40]-1.84 [Rank 37]-1.71 [Rank 40]-2.11

Z-score (number of standard deviations above or below the mean)

  • Group 5
    less than -1.0
  • Group 4
    between -1.0 and -0.5
  • Group 3
    between -0.5 and 0.5
  • Group 2
    between 0.5 and 1.0
  • Group 1
    more than 1.0

The Index was first published in November 2012, and updated with the latest data in January 2014. The 2014 Index follows the same methodology as the original Index. No countries have been added or removed; the indicators, weightings and sources remain the same.

The Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment compares the performance of 39 countries and one region (Hong Kong) on two categories of education: Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment. The Index provides a snapshot of the relative performance of countries based on their education outputs.

The indicators used in this Index are:

- Cognitive Skills: PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS scores in Reading, Maths and Science

- Educational Attainment: literacy and graduation rates

How is the Index calculated?

The overall index score is the weighted sum of the underlying two category scores. Likewise, the category scores are the weighted sum of the underlying indicator scores (see below for the default weights applied). Each indicator score is calculated on the basis of a z-score normalisation process. This process enables the comparison and aggregation of different data sets (on different scales), and the scoring of countries on the basis of their comparative performance.

What is a z-score?

A z-score indicates how many standard deviations an observation is above or below the mean. To compute the z-score, the EIU first calculated each indicator’s mean and standard deviation using the data for the countries in the Index, and then the distance of the observation from the mean in terms of standard deviations.

How are the categories and indicators weighted?

The overall index score is the weighted sum of the underlying two category scores. Likewise, the category scores are the weighted sum of the underlying indicator scores. The default weighting for the Index is two-thirds to cognitive skills and one-third to educational attainment. Within the cognitive skills category, the Grade 8 tests’ score accounts for 60% while the Grade 4 tests’ score accounts for 40% (Reading, Maths and Science all account for equal weights). Within the educational attainment category, the literacy rate and graduation rates account for equal weights.

When making comparisons of individual countries across Index versions it is important to focus on the ranking rather than the score. This is because the mean and standard deviation for each indicator are specific to each version of the Index and the sample of countries.

The data within the 2014 Index was collected and/or calculated in September 2014, while the data within the 2012 Index was collected and/or calculated in September 2012. For the full methodology for the 2014 Index please refer to the Appendix 2 in the latest report; for more details on the Learning Curve’s quantitative component, please refer to Appendix 1 in The Learning Curve 2012 Report.

Note: *Because of the variation in how countries measure graduation rates, the EIU followed the Advisory Panel's suggestion in using OECD graduation rate data, which uses one main definition. When OECD data was not available, national ministry or statistics bureau data was sanity-checked and then used if deemed comparable. In some cases, no data on upper secondary and/or tertiary graduation rates was available. In this case, the country was awarded the mean score for this indicator. One disadvantage of giving a country the mean score is that if in reality it performs worse than the average in this indicator, the Index boosts its score, and vice versa. Nevertheless, this was deemed the most transparent and fair method available. This also applies to one country for the literacy rate, where no internationally comparable data was found to be available.