Skip to content

Elementary and Secondary Public School Expenditures as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product (Percent)

State Indicator S-10

This indicator represents the relative amount of resources that state governments expend to support public education in prekindergarten through grade 12. It is calculated by dividing a state's current expenditures for elementary and secondary public schools by the state's gross domestic product (GDP). Current expenditures include instruction and instruction-related costs, student support services, administration, and operations and exclude funds for school construction and other capital outlays, debt service, and programs outside of public elementary and secondary education. State and local support represent the largest sources of funding for elementary and secondary education.

Absolute expenditures on public elementary and secondary education have increased over time, but when normalized by levels of state GDP, expenditures have decreased in many states. Many of the states with the highest education spending as a percentage of GDP also have small student populations, suggesting that some level of expenditure for educational infrastructure (e.g., assessments of curriculum development) may be largely independent of the size of the student population.

Expenditure data on public elementary and secondary education are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. They are part of the National Public Education Financial Survey and are included in the Common Core of Data, a comprehensive annual national statistical database that covers approximately 100,000 public elementary and secondary schools and 18,000 regular school districts in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Department of Defense Schools, and outlying areas. Expenditures are expressed in current dollars and their data year is the end date of the academic year. For example, current expenditure data for 2014 represent expenditures for the 2013–14 academic year.

Data sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Public Education Financial Survey; U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Gross Domestic Product data; Government of Puerto Rico, Office of the Governor, Gross Domestic Product data.

  • 1st Quartile

    3.7%5.46%
  • 2nd Quartile

    3.33%3.65%
  • 3rd Quartile

    2.91%3.31%
  • 4th Quartile

    1.38%2.88%
  • No data

Footnote

e = estimated value is affected by the redistribution of reported values to correct for missing data items and/or to distribute state direct-support expenditures.

NOTES: The national total for public school expenditures for the United States includes U.S. territories. Please see source for information on estimation methodology; The national GDP total for the United States includes Puerto Rico.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Public Education Financial Survey (various years), data as of February 2017; U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Gross Domestic Product data (various years); Government of Puerto Rico, Office of the Governor, Gross Domestic Product data (various years), data as of May 2017.