Everyone takes as given the goodness of expenditures with Education. However, we observe that different countries have quite discrepant levels of education expenditure, particularly if we look to the expenditure in education as a percentage of GDP. Even if we consider developed countries, we may face different kinds of preferences facing education, and also different degrees of efficiency, with some countries being capable of reaching the same outcome with fewer resources.
As we can see in the graph below, Portugal has increased substantially its percentage of GDP spent by the state since 1974, the year that the country found its own way towards democracy.
Despite this huge increase in the last years, Portugal is still around the OECD-15 average in terms of public expenditure in education, with about 5 percent of its GDP invested in education, still far from Denmark that invests almost 7.5 percent of its gross product in education.
In relation to expenditure with teachers’ wages, Portuguese teachers earned more 25% in 2010 than in 2000 (USD converted PPP). Anyhow, Portuguese teachers still earn a smaller monthly salary than the average of the countries in OECD if we measure wages in converted US dollars using purchasing power parity.
By these figures, what we can say is that Portugal is not spending money in education beyond its possibilities.
Anyway, it’s important to consider the low levels of human capital presented by the Portuguese population. Only 35% of the Portuguese population aged 25 to 64 has completed at least upper secondary education. The European Union has an average of 73.4 percent of the population! In 2012 were still reported about 1 million illiterate Portuguese. This clearly states the long path that the Portuguese society and economy has to travel. Given these unbelievable low levels of qualification, a higher public expenditure in education from the Portuguese would not be odd.
Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators 2012
“Há quase um milhão de portugueses analfabetos”, Expresso, September 2012
Pordata, Base de Portugal Contemporâneo