PARIS - The economic crisis has not slowed access to education in rich-world countries but has hit young, badly educated adults hardest, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Tuesday.
"A first glance at the evidence shows that in OECD countries, access to education continues to expand," the organisation's head Angel Gurria said.
Nearly 40 percent of people in the 25-34 age bracket have been educated at university, 15 percentage points higher than the 55-64 age range.
"Importantly, the crisis did not slow this process of expansion; on the contrary, when scanty labour markets didn't provide much of an alternative, many individuals used the low opportunity costs to invest in their education with the aim of improving their chances for a better life," said Gurria.
Moreover, in emerging economies, rates of education are expanding faster than in the rich world.
This should imply a more skilled workforce with resulting benefits to society but in fact "we find that socio-economic divisions are deepening."
People with lower education levels have been hit proportionately harder by the rise in unemployment that battered countries during the economic crisis.
Across the 34 OECD advanced economies, the unemployment rate for people with a university education stood at 5.0 percent (but 7.4 percent for people aged 25-34).
However, the unemployment rate for 25-34 year-olds without an upper secondary education reached 19.8 percent in 2012, the report said.
"Our data reconfirm that the economic crisis hit young, low-educated adults hardest," Gurria said.
There is also evidence of a "widening gap between the educational 'haves' and 'have-nots'," Gurria noted, with a yawning gap in earnings between those who hold a university education and those who left school at 16
Economic crisis, poorly educated hardest, OECD