The Ten Most Educated and Smartest Countries in 2012

An interesting ranking was recently reported by Yahoo! Finance, on the ten most educated countries of the world. That is, which countries have the highest percentage of people with post-secondary education. Apparently college and university graduation rates have increased in half a century by almost 200%, but the rates among countries vary greatly. And while it’s not surprising to see countries that spend a great deal of their GDPs on education, many of the countries on the list spend comparably little, and yet see high numbers of graduates. So after you check to see if your country made the list, be sure to ask yourself: Just what does this really mean?

The “Most-Educated” Rankings

The ranking was reported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and I was surprised about the order myself. Perhaps Poland will be on the list after one more decade, as its post-secondary education rate jumped from 10% in 1997 to 21% in 2009, and it’s still on its way up. But education trends are hard to foresee. Anyways, these are the ten most educated countries in the world, just as reported.

10. Finland

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 1.8% (3rd lowest)
GDP per capita: $36,585 (14th highest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.15% (10th lowest)

Finland is a small country relative to the other OECD members. The share of its adult population with some sort of postsecondary education, however, is rather large. This select group is reaching the end of its expansion. From 1999 to 2009, the number of college-educated adults increased only 1.8% annually — the third-smallest amount among all OECD countries. Finland is also one of only two countries, the other being Korea, in which the fields of social sciences, business and law are not the most popular among students. In Finland, new entrants are most likely to study engineering, manufacturing and construction.

9. Australia

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.3% (11th lowest)
GDP per capita: $40,719 (6th highest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 14.63% (3rd highest)

Australia ’s population grew 14.63% between 2000 and 2009. This is the third-largest increase among OECD countries. Its tertiary-educated adult population is increasing at the much less impressive annual rate of 3.3%. Australia also spends the sixth-least amount in public funds on education as a percentage of all expenditures. The country also draws large numbers of international students.

8. United Kingdom

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 4.0% (9th highest)
GDP per capita: $35,504 (16th highest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.47% (13th lowest)

Unlike most of the countries with the highest percentage of educated adults, the UK ’s educated group increased measurably — more than 4% between 1999 and 2009. Its entire population only grew 3.5% between 2000 and 2009. One aspect that the UK does share with a number of other countries on this list is relatively low public expenditure on education institutions as a percentage of all educational spending. As of 2008, 69.5% of spending came from public sources — the fourth-smallest amount among OECD countries.

7. Norway

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): N/A
GDP per capita: $56,617 (2nd highest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 7.52% (14th highest)

Norway has the third-greatest expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP, at 7.3%. Roughly 23% of that is spent on tertiary education. In Norway , more than 60% of all tertiary graduates were in a bachelor’s program, well more than the U.S., which is close to the OECD average of 45%. The country is one of the wealthiest in the world. GDP per capita is $56,617, second only to Luxembourg in the OECD.

6. South Korea

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 39%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 5.3% (5th highest)
GDP per capita: $29,101 (13th lowest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.70% (14th lowest)

Korea is another standout country for its recent increase in the percentage of its population that has a tertiary education. Graduates increased 5.3% between 1999 and 2009, the fifth-highest among OECD countries. Like the UK, this rate is greater than the country’s recent population growth. Korea is also one of only two countries — the other being Finland — in which the most popular fields of study are not social sciences, business and law. In Korea, new students choose to study education, humanities and arts at the greatest rates. Only 59.6% of expenditures on educational institutions come from public funds — the second-lowest rate.

5. New Zealand

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 40%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.5% (14th lowest)
GDP per capita: $29,871 (14th lowest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 11.88% (8th largest)

New Zealand is not a particularly wealthy country. GDP per capita is less than $30,000, and is the 14th lowest in the OECD. However, 40% of the population engages in tertiary education, the fifth-highest rate in the world. The country actually has a rapidly growing population, increasing 11.88% between 2000 and 2009. This was the eighth-largest increase in the OECD. Part of the reason for the high rate of tertiary graduates is the high output from secondary schools. More than 90% of residents graduate from secondary school.

4. United States

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 41%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 1.4% (the lowest)
GDP per capita: $46,588 (4th highest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 8.68% (12th highest)

The U.S. experienced a fairly large growth in population from 2000 to 2009. During the period, the population increased 8.68% — the 12th highest among OECD countries. Meanwhile, the rate at which the share of the population with a tertiary education is growing has slowed to an annual rate of 1.4% — the lowest among the 34 OECD countries. Just 71% of funding for educational institutions in the country comes from public funds, placing the U.S. sixth-lowest in this measure. Among OECD countries, the largest share of adults with a tertiary education live in the United States — 25.8%.

3. Japan

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 44%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.2% (10th lowest)
GDP per capita: $33,751 (17th lowest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 0.46% (6th lowest)

In Japan, 44% of the adult population has some form of tertiary education. The U.S. by comparison has a rate of 41%. Japan ’s population increased just 0.46% between 2000 and 2009, the sixth-slowest growth rate in the OECD, and the slowest among our list of 10. Japan is tied with Finland for the third-highest upper-secondary graduation rate in the world, at 95%. It has the third-highest tertiary graduation rate in the world, but only spends the equivalent of 1.5% of GDP on tertiary education — the 17th lowest rate in the OECD.

2. Israel

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 45%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): N/A
GDP per capita: $28,596 (12th lowest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 19.02% (the highest)

Although there is no data on the percentage of Israeli citizens with postsecondary education dating back to 1999, the numbers going back to 2002 show that growth is slowing dramatically compared to other countries. In fact, in 2006, 46% of adults ages 25 to 64 had a tertiary education. In 2007 this number fell to 44%. Only 78% of funds spent on educational institutions in Israel are public funds. The country is also only one of three — the other two being Ireland and Sweden — where expenditure on educational institutions as a proportion of GDP decreased from 2000 to 2008. Israel also had the largest increase in overall population, approximately 19% from 2000 to 2009.

1. Canada

Pct. population with postsecondary education: 50%
Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 2.3% (5th lowest)
GDP per capita: $39,070 (10th highest)
Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 9.89% (10th highest)

In Canada, 50% of the adult population has completed tertiary education, easily the highest rate in the OECD. Each year, public and private expenditure on education amount to 2.5% of GDP, the fourth-highest rate in the world. Tertiary education spending accounts for 41% of total education spending in the country. In the U.S. , the proportion is closer to 37%. In Israel, the rate is 22%. In Canada, nearly 25% of students have an immigrant background.

Intelligent States

This ranking represents the rate of educational attainment, but many sources on the Internet are saying that this represents the “smartest countries in the world.” Unless you define intelligence as credentials, you would have to admit that this doesn’t represent intelligence. These rankings are not informed by any valid comparison of intelligence (not that intelligence tests are particularly valid to begin with), so to find the “smartest country,” we should use an international exam.

Consider one of the most famous international aptitude tests, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This assessment is conducted on 15-year-olds from around the world on measures of reading, science, and mathematics. The most recent test was in 2009.

Consistent with other such international examinations, as well as results from recent years, Finland and South Korea are at the top. Ranked even higher than these, however, was the city of Shanghai, which marked China ’s first time participating. This gives people the wrong impression that Shanghai represents the entire country. I think if only people in the state of California represented the USA, their rank would be a lot higher as well. There’s no question that China has considerably good education, but Shanghai doesn’t represent the poorest parts of the country, so it is not a fair comparison.

However, this didn’t stop the Japanese TV show “Sekai-Banzuke” (世界番付) from poorly reporting on international education in October of last year. I took this picture when I saw them rank the top three countries, with Japan ranked 8 underneath.

“Sekai-Banzuke” reporting the 2009 PISA results as world’s smartest countries

The problem with this reporting is that they said it reflects intelligence, instead of reflecting one aspect of it (namely, the 2009 PISA ’s reading score); and claiming that China is #1 in the world. While it’s true that reading was the main focus of the 2009 study, it was not China that participated – only Shanghai did. So despite the Japanese TV show then broadcasting a genuinely interesting field report, not all of it was accurate.

Should we even buy into PISA results at all? Some believe that PISA is not just useful for measuring intelligence, but that the results are good indicators of future economic growth. This may be true, but then there are still cases such as Peru, which is currently enjoying an economic boom despite having one of the worst education systems in Latin America. Others, often Americans, don’t believe that PISA should be used to assess countries. As the late social scientist Gerald Bracey poignantly wrote just before his death in 2009 (before the PISA’s 2009 results were released)…

Many critics cite the performance of American students on international comparisons of mathematics and science. [. . .] Most recently (2006), American students ranked 24th of 30 OECD nations in mathematics and 17th of 30 in science. [. . .] It should be noted that these rankings are determined by nations’ average scores [. . .] [but] average students are not likely to be the leaders in fields of mathematics and science. Those roles are more likely to fall to those scoring well.

[. . .] If one examines the number of highest-scoring students in science, the United States has 25% of all high-scoring students [within the 58 countries who participated]. Among nations with high average scores, Japan accounted for 13% of the highest scorers, Korea 5%, Taipei 3%, Finland 1%, and Hong Kong 1%. Singapore did not participate.

In a separate blog post, Bracey also made this argument (links were added below, and the text was heavily reorganized; click here for the original text):

Comparing nations on average scores is a pretty silly idea. It’s like ranking runners based on average shoe size [. . .] Not much link to reality. What is likely much more important is how many high performers you have. On both TIMSS math and science, the U. S. has a much higher proportion of “advanced” scorers than the international median although the proportion is much smaller than in Asian nations.

This was not true on PISA, another international comparison that tests 15-year-olds. Only 1.5% of American students scored at the highest level compared to top performing New Zealand at 4% and second place Finland at 3.9%.

Yet the proportion of Americans at the highest level meant that 70,000 kids scored there compared to about 2,000 for New Zealand and Sweden. No one else even came close–Japan was second with about 33,000 top performers. These are the people who might end up creating leading edge technology in the future.

[. . . ] Who cares if Singapore, with about the same population as the Washington Metro Area, and Hong Kong, with about twice that number, score high? There aren’t many people there. [. . .] And, as journalist Fareed Zakariya found out, the Singapore kids fade as they become adults. [. . .] When Zakariya asked the Singapore Minister of Education why his high-flying students faded in after-school years, the Minister cited creativity, ambition, and a willingness to challenge existing knowledge, all of which he thought American excelled in. But, as Bob Sternberg of Tufts University [. . .] has pointed out, our obsession with standardized testing has produced one of the best instruments in the nation’s history for stifling creativity.

The two Swiss-based organizations that rank nations on global competitiveness, the Institute for Management Development [IMD] and the World Economic Forum [WEF], both rank the U. S. #1 and have for a number of years. The WEF examines 12 “pillars of competitiveness,” only one of which is education. We do OK there, but we shine on innovation. [. . .]

But really, does the fate of the nation rest on how well 9- and 13-year-olds bubble in answer sheets? I don’t think so. Neither does British economist, S. J. Prais [. . .] [who says:] “That the United States, the world’s top economic performing country, was found to have school attainments that are only middling casts fundamental doubts about the value and approach of these [international assessments].”

[. . .] As usual in these comparisons, Americans in low-poverty schools look very good, even in mathematics. They would be ranked third in the 4th grade (among 36 nations) 6th in the 8th grade (among 47 nations). This is important because while other developed nations have poor children, the U. S. has a much higher proportion and a much weaker safety net. When UNICEF studied poverty in 22 wealthy nations, the U. S. ranked 21st.

I don’t think we should just throw out the measurement of mean, but I do agree that it would be helpful to look at the median to get a more accurate view of what intelligence really is. In fact, Mel Riddile, from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), has shown that you can manipulate the US PISA data to show that the places with the lowest poverty rates turn out to be the highest scoring, and those with the highest poverty rates yield some of the lowest scores. Suddenly Shanghai being at the top of the reading scores makes a lot of sense.

The Bottom Line

We can call Canada the most educated country in the world if your definition is the highest number of nationals with post-secondary credentials; but is that your definition of being the “smartest country in the world?” It’s not mine. I don’t even think that international intelligence tests are valid indicators of intelligence.

And for that matter, what is intelligence, and how do you measure it? Is it the score you get on a test when you’re 15 years old? People try to make sense of the world, but it’s important to acknowledge the limitations of our investigations. Or else we’ll start believing something that simply might not be true.

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59 Responses to The Ten Most Educated and Smartest Countries in 2012

  1. Lewis Park says:

    WHAT THE HECK??? Are you kidding me? Finland is smartest, and Korea is second, dudes, yall got it totally wrong. I still think that Korea is smartest, and are you kidding me? Why isn’t China in here? And are you kidding me? Japan got a friggin earthquake. They can’t be smart right now. And UNITED STATES? Dude the United States might have the best Colleges right now, but the student education here sucks. Well in the South, not in the North or the West, Just the South.

    • Dick dastardly says:

      Are u retarded? It says canada is number one, not finland u twat, are you capable of counting to ten??? Anyway your’e a twat so shut it!

      • Bob Bobberson says:

        you’re an idiot. I saw a psa on tv to raise school standards because USA is #25 in education. South Korea is #1 Finland is #2. google the top countries in the world in education.

        • lpzgrn says:

          Shangai is what I see rated as #1.

          I find it hysterical how for all the psycho studying the Asians do, Finland ranks right up there with them & they’re not studying anywhere near as much. They have much normal, balanced lives.

          • Jay says:

            Too bad that it was only for students in Shanghai.
            If it was taken from students only in Seoul,
            Seoul > Shanghai.

          • bob johnson says:

            No way Shanghai What the Beep! South korea is #1 for sure! man who ever wrote this article is W.R.O.N.G!!! :twisted: :twisted:

            • jack meadson says:

              Shanghai or Seoul or Korea …. whatever it is …. the Asians are the brightest no doubt.

          • jack meadson says:

            Finland’s tertiary institutions are sub-standard and easy to get in that’s why you idiot. A middle school kid in Asia could have easily attended university in Finland! Have u seen Finnish universities ranked in the Top 50 or 100 in recognized global higher education rankings?! :smile:

        • Pat says:

          I saw the same, but it is propaganda , and some one is making money on this, California jut changed their education system and all the companies supplying the newtext and material get rich.

      • :evil: Woah man. Cool it. It’s called a mistake which no doubt someone as imature as you would have made many yourself!

      • jack meadson says:

        Canada is #1 only because of its immigration policy of admitting tons of Asian students and migrants. Don’t bet on the Canadians to rank this high based on their miniscule intellect :lol:

    • Aman says:

      YO :!:,do u know how smart japan really is?! They have the best tech in the world and they have so much robots that its not even funny! Jist because the country got an earthquake, it doesent mean the countrys not smart! (im not japenese is thats what u think. Im actually indian) next time u make a comment…plz get the facts right. :|

      • TIDSDF says:

        Hey you Aman. Have you known that Korean is the smartest?
        They have made Samsung LG and almost all the things you use in life liek Galaxy note and things like that.
        Don’t blame people

        • lpzgrn says:

          Things that have made my life miserable. Yeah, thanks Korea for all those accidents caused by texting & driving & because no one talks to each other at the dinner table anymore.

        • jack meadson says:

          So one is smart because they made the iPhone or the Galaxy smartphone. Wow …. You sure are uber-smart!! You must be American … :lol:

          • Best education does not exactly equate to smartest. You also have to take in the factor that international test scores are not always a precise way to measure the amount of education or intelligence. In fact this article addressed such claims.

    • Mike Rodriguez says:

      :lol: Says the guy that put yall in his comment. Even yall isnt spelt that way. Yall-> y’all. Y’all -> you all. If you want to comment about being smart or intelligent, be at least one of the two.

    • Andrew says:

      How does having a natural disaster in the case of Japan cause your country to become dumber? :???:

    • Josh says:

      We are looking at the top most educated country dude relax!

    • jack meadson says:

      The US is recognized as having the best colleges only because the US is the richest and most powerful country over the past few decades. That in turn attracted the brightest minds from around the world to pursue higher education there and raised the low standards of americans. Chinese and Indian universities have curriculum and standards that are way more rigorous than the US’s or better, Europe’s. Try placing the smartest Harvard/Yale/Princeton undergrad in Peking University/Tsinghua or the IITs in India and see them relegate to the end of the class. Try getting an american student to take the standardized national (tertiary) exams in China and see him make a fool of himself and vice versa, get a Chinese or Indian student to take the SAT and he/she will probably qualify for Harvard any day ;-)

    • Jgujvj says:

      Yea I kinda of agree with you it should be 1.China 2.India 3.Japan 4.South Korea and so on

  2. Kia Howell says:

    @ Lewis Park. You are mixing up the meanings of “most educated” and “most intelligent” even though this article clearly explains the difference between the two. (Maybe you didn’t read that far.) The U.S. is #4 on the most educated list but #17 on the most intelligent list. Reading your comment confirms the reason we are so low on the intelligent list.

  3. Pingback: The most educated country in the world

  4. thebruins says:

    This survey includes those who completed postsecondary education below that of a Bachelor’s degree as well, such as a two-year degree or trade school. A better metric would be to include only those who completed at least a Bachelor’s degree; the results would be different. I believe Norway would then be first, followed by the US, and then some other countries that were on this list.

  5. Micky Mouse says:

    To me I think South Korea should even be on the top list of the smartest and most intelligent.

  6. the no it all says:

    dum site the smartest are 1.japan 2. England 3. Russia . Americans don’t go in the top 25 maybe they will if they learn to speak right it’s called English the Americans us slag all the time if they learn to speak properly they might get higher up on the list

    • Mike Rodriguez says:

      Really? You idiot! How in the world is England and Russia even in the top 5? Russia is not very smart. (no offense to anybody of the ethnicity here) England, by the way, is not number 2. Either you are a hard-core lover of England and Russia, or you just think that only your opinion is right

  7. Deep says:

    Japan , Germany , and Israel are the smartest countries then comes Russia , UK , india ……..South koreans are just crooks, they steal and copy technology from japan and germany.
    Indians are one of the worlds smartest people . 36% of NASA scientists , 30% of microsoft software developers , 28 % of IBM developers, 28% of AT & T lab scientists are indians. This is just a n example from US. There are more examples from every developed country.

    • Jay says:

      whoops, except that koreans have the highest acceptance rate at ivy leagues.
      higher than jews and chinese.

      everyone steals.
      korea stole from japan and germany so they can make money too. that was the only way to make money at the time. korea was the 2nd poorest country in 1953, but they rank top 13 HDI in the world. and GDP as well.

      now korea is being innovative in TV, chips, shipbuilding, etc.
      once they gain % of markets, they will start being innovative. untill then, they will steal like no other.

      samsung steals from apple, but it will only be for time being.
      once they gains most users in smartphone, they will start being innovate to enlarge the gap between no.2.

      That’s the intelligence.

      • Charlie says:

        Koreans are the narrow minded sheep willing to pay top money for the Ivy League dream offered by the media; not considering that other universities and colleges in the U.S. and around the world are also great places to learn. Besides, they all are here because they love the United States of America!!!!.
        By the way Koreans, Americans are not Caucasians, that is a race. True American are the native Americans, anyone else are immigrants. So Please stop questioning others non Caucasians that they are not Americans. My friend Jose is a second generation U.S. born citizen. He is not Caucasian but is very American. If you have a problem with that then go back home!!

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah, but India has the second largest population in the world so it makes sense for them to have their best and brightest working in the leading companies as they had more chances to take part in the genius-lottery that is making babies.

      • Andrew says:

        Sorry, I forgot to add the point that what you said doesn’t reflect the average of India accurately.

  8. An Individual says:

    Actually it’s a government statistic that Canada is ranked #1 in the world for their post-secondary education rates. A large portion of Canadians have obtained post-secondary education. The U.S has very prestigious schools, but as a whole, they’re ranked very low & don’t make the top ten for the most educated countries, because a portion of the population hasn’t pursued post-secondary education.
    China’s edu. system doesn’t even allow some of the students to get into a high school because of the high school entry exam that they have to write. If they don’t pass, they’re done school.

    • Charlie says:

      That my friend is a true statement. I have heard the same speech from Chinese citizens working here in the U.S.

      By the way, what’s with the Chinese working in Chinese restaurants? Isn’t the way they are brought here, their contract clauses, a form of slavery?

  9. Steve says:

    NO DATA on Persians. Inspite of the most barbaric government (Supported by the west and Ruskies and the Chine iz) and the tragic repression of our beautiful sisters and daughters by some Arab loving Turban Heads, and baseless racism and accusations of terrorism, unfortunately Re-enforced by Israel (Same people who were saved from slavery and had their Temple rebuilt by the Persians)The forcedly exiled communities are THE most educated minority group in the US and Canada…. FINS smarter than Americans?? Dude you should take a drug test.

  10. Sam says:

    You know it is incorrect when you don’t see India on it lol.

  11. sarah jervis says:

    hey hey where r china. Big Country no geeks. Anyway I am proud to be a geek. ;-) ;-) Lol. Quoted my teacher

  12. Human says:

    Its a Biased survey…..USA & its friends countries are smart…wow …And rest of the other strong countries like China, India, Russia have no position …good…lol

  13. falsepride says:

    Yes, its true, we all know Samsung copies Apple. and yet many still prefers it. We strive to matter to the world and copying one of the few ways we can at this time. we do it out of insecurity. cause we really got nothing. our culture had been destroyed by Japan prior to the Korean war. It was agonizing and we moved on for the best. acceling in technology is only way the get your attention and visit us. You think you woulda found an interest in us without our tech? :???:

    We don’t know many reknown scientist from Korea. It’s true. and I resented that for some time. But now I understand the true great things are from group of people with common interest not by one ‘genious’. Koreans are alike in many ways. looks, what we do, and what we are good at. one charateristic trait that I am abivalent about is the ‘unity’. WE ALL DO THE SAME THING. just go search videos about concert or even North Korea’s army march. it makes us tasteless individually, but on the other hand, it is very productive. I am a Korean who recently has got a degree in Canada, and I understand how difficult it is to change my perpective from ‘I’ to “we”. it requires some amount of loyalty and selflessness. With that said, I admire Korean people but to rank them as the smartest or most intelligent people is to me an insecure thought and rather childish and it accomplishes nothing.

  14. J. Allen says:

    The percentages of those attending post-school education, ie tertiary level institutions, is not very helpful, in my opinion, as a yardstick of an educated society. Take the comparison with Finland and Australia or the USA. Entering a Finnish university is extremely difficult with stiff departmental exams. One candidate for a primary teacher degree course (MEd) can expect to face 12-14 others for a place. A Master’s degree is the minimum here for any hope of teacher or medical./law employment.

    The comparison is even more suspect when one considers the actual meaning of the terms used…. when an English or Finnish child leaves senior high school he or she has sat a demanding national exam, in Finland will be reasonably capable in at least 3 languages and maths. American national education is notoriously poor with BA degrees often making up for this in the first two years.

    There are marvellous American schools and brilliant minds and superb universities- even the world’s best of course- but looking at the whole national picture, this survey is very flawed. Sorry, but I am a professional international educator and speak from experience. I have had American students on a pre-university “gap year” who were semi-literate, extremely poor on general knowledge and notably more immature than their European fellows…. but all set up to attend a US university. They simply wouldn’t make it in a different context.

    • jack meadson says:

      The SAT is a joke …. an elementary school kid could pass with flying colors :lol:

      • Ryo says:

        Hi Jack,

        In your brief comments on this article, you have so far insulted the intelligence of Canadians, Americans, and Finnish people. Let’s talk.

        You can tell just how much stock I hold in these results if you actually read to the end of my article… but I want to point out that your theory of education and intelligence is largely racially determined (i.e., racist). If you think that Canada is #1 because it lets in Asian students, then why aren’t all of the Asian countries #1? The answer is obvious – international tests aren’t determined by race.

        By the way, I know the comments are for some reason somewhat heated in this article, but I prefer if you don’t insult the other commenters (“Finland’s tertiary institutions are sub-standard and easy to get in that’s why you idiot”) especially with such “sub-standard” English.

        In fact, your statement of “Asians are the brightest no doubt” is laughable. Someone so sure that someone is the smartest has clearly not carefully considered what the definition of intelligence is. I would indeed have to ask you what intelligence means, how you get it, and how you know when you have it. Or perhaps, for your theory, I should be asking “who is born with it?” because you seem to be fixated on race.

        I really can’t tell what your answer would be, because for some reason you believe that “an elementary school kid could pass [the SAT] with flying colors.” The idea that American teens struggle with the SAT while elementary students around the world would find it the easiest thing is just… what can I say? It’s just wrong. I think it’s an awful test, but I don’t understand why you’re making that bizarre argument. It just comes off as needlessly anti-American.

        Look, I’m sure you aced the SATs when you were 10, and the other American high school graduates who struggled with it went onto their intellectually lacking experiences in their sub-par Ivy League institutions like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale (i.e., the ones you named) meanwhile the ‘real’ education happens in India and Shanghai because they are, you know, Asian. Is this not the crux of your argument?

        Well then here’s my argument: It’s people like you who perpetuate the nonsense comparisons of international educational achievements or “aptitude.” There are many things different countries do not test, which in other countries would consider an aspect of intelligence (e.g., giving an opinion in Japan) and of course the educational systems around the world don’t hold a uniform set of values. In the same vein, the idea that you can genuinely compare universities is just as laughable, yet you somehow decided that all students from Peking University are smarter than all students from Princeton. This is pure conjecture.

        You can say what you will about medical schools or computer programs, but I would take a psychology program out of Stanford, Harvard, or Yale any day over the psychology programs in China or India. Why? Because they’re better. American psychology programs do the most psychology research in the world. But would I say Stanford is better than an Indian university? How could I possibly make that call? The real question is “in what regard is it better?” In terms of psychology research? – sure. In terms of tuition or student financial support? – all right. But the concept of “how many Asians are there in the school” certainly never crossed my mind. I don’t know why it crossed yours.
        Actually, I probably do know why it crossed yours: Stereotyping.

        If we’re really going to make any semblance of a comparison between countries or universities around the world, we have to do it with the acute awareness that we are simply boiling down ratings of universities to numbers and anecdotes. Only when we have the humility to recognize our limitations can we even begin to make any meaningful assertions about such rankings.

        PS: Your anti-Finland diatribe particularly rubbed me the wrong way. You said: “A middle school kid in Asia could have easily attended university in Finland! Have u seen Finnish universities ranked in the Top 50 or 100 in recognized global higher education rankings?! :smile:
        If you did any elementary investigation into the rankings that I mentioned in this very article, you would see that Finland ranked in the top 100 in the PISA 2009 test. They were ranked #3 (which is really #2 when you take out the horribly skewed/biased #1 spot of Shanghai). So maybe let’s not make fun of Finnish people? I’m sure they could teach you a thing or two about education.

        • Charlie says:

          your words woken up the abeyance feeling of humbleness inside me.

          We all are educated, and masters in our own different aptitudes.

          Thank you

  15. sahil says:

    china and india has most talented people round the world…..though they have largest population so what ? This means if a country has large population it will definatly have smart people ?you all know its not true.. People work hard there to reach that positions..

  16. mohammadiliyas papaminya shaikh says:


  17. Christopher says:

    The US is being out ranked by third world countries in education, the US is lowest in education… Take them off the list

  18. Loouis Chiislett says:

    ‘Yet the proportion of Americans at the highest level meant that 70,000 kids scored there compared to about 2,000 for New Zealand and Sweden. No one else even came close–Japan was second with about 33,000 top performers. These are the people who might end up creating leading edge technology in the future.’

    Yes, of course, the USA has many times more people than Japan, and even more times than New Zealand. Therefore the comparisons made are inappropriate.
    Furthermore, it says that while the USA’s average intelligence isn’t so high, it still produces many top scientists. While that may be true, the study was top 10 countries in the world, which is an average of the country.
    (how can you have one thing for the US, while then saying China’s result is not counted because there are people outside of Shanghai who aren’t as clever. If you take an average for China, then you take one for the US as well, otherwise, what is the point)

  19. Luvo says:

    Futsek, this rating is stupid. The people who wrote this rubbish are imperialists. Some African countries should also be mentioned e.g Nigeria,Zimbabwe and South Africa.
    Stop trying to make whites look smart. You whites you are so Racist and stupid with your long noses and fowl smelling skin. Fuck off! The reason you are so loud you whites is because you are leaving with blood and sweat of Africans and Asian and you think you are rich while you are satanists.

    • Ryo says:

      Hi Luvo. I usually thank my commenters for being insightful, but obviously that would presuppose some actual insight. Though I particularly liked the hypocrisy of accusing white people of being racist, and then going off on the most racist tangent any commenter has ever made on the whole website, I do ask of my commenters to be respectful, which is a memo you have clearly missed.
      The only reason I allowed this comment to be posted is to show others what a stupid argument looks like. Your subsequent comments will not be published if they are as racist, nonsensical, and/or random as your last two.

  20. Yello says:

    Well, I think this is just a joke. It just shows those countries have better education, it doesn’t mean their people are smarter. Do you really think that people who come from these countries are all smart? You can’t be serious. :lol:

  21. Charlie says:

    No country is smarter just because they have more industry or produces more products. If that was the case then China would be #1. The fact of the matter is that everything you are reading here falls in these three cases: (1) the writer intent of providing a somewhat informative report (2) a bias report with the intent to make money (3) a report with the intent to create a discussion; it is all about psychology. I really like China. But according to a Chinese Student, a Chinese’s Bachelor degree is taught much like how an associate degree in the U.S. : it does not offer an overall curriculum of knowledge; and depending on your degree, math and science are irrelevant therefore not taught. All i’m going to say about the Koreans is that that country is as corrupted as any third world country , money and sex gets you anything there. Education starts at home, and that’s what Americans need to realize and/or start practicing. I, an American, choose the U.S. as the most educated because you all are reading this in a ” .com ” domain and in English. We have the imagination to create the i-pod, CPU processors, etc; and the intelligence to have it made cheaply in other countries, hold patents of what we create, dominate the world with our media and language, and charge others money so they can be like us :-) = ” The day you see me learning Korean or other language, that day consider yourself special. But not that much, because I’m learning it with the intent to enter your market for personal gain, not to be like you.

  22. Pingback: My Map About Education | Zwee's Blog

  23. Micky says:

    I don’t see why everyone is getting so heated over this article, as the creator said it is based solely on secondary education. And to be even more specific, the percentage of people who attend it. He is not claiming any one country is ‘smarter’ than another, as there is no substantial way to prove that. And what would it prove, really? Just because a country is considered ‘smarter’ than another, it doesn’t mean everyone there is intelligent, nor in the case that the ‘smartest’ country would be without its citizens lacking there of.
    I would also like to point out to another commentator, who made the argument that people had bothered to learn English for this article, meaning that the U.S is…more influential? I’m not sure what point they were trying to make, to be honest, considering many countries have created technology and largely affect media. Either way, Americans are not the only ones who can speak English. There are, of course, the ACTUAL English people, Australians, Canadians, etc. In fact, English is one of the only languages taught throughout the world. Just because I take Spanish class doesn’t mean Spain is dominating any country.
    This article is just giving facts. Basing how much a country is educated on anything other than how much schooling its citizens receive is ridiculous, so in reality, this article is perfectly correct

  24. Andre says:

    People are so smart they didnt even care to read the news this only shows the countries with the most graduates, which has absolutely nothing to do with smartness, I personally know retards that graduated and I mean real diagnosed retards. The title “smartest” is retard and so are most the comments.

  25. brosbefor... says:

    :shock: Completly bias, I live in Canada and more then half the population have terrible iq’s, and yet i europe the 2 smartest coutrys( iq wise) are italy and Albania and they don’t make it on the list when lower iq europian countries do, very bias!

  26. tim says:

    What about Germany? Also, why is there ties between economy and Intellectualism. Is that the only thing that was used as a statistic? And what makes people “smart”?
    Maybe one should define this. Also, what about France??

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