Public expenditure on education in China 2011-2019

In 2018, public spending on education in China reached 3,491.3 billion yuan. Education expenditure increased continuously over recent years, but growth rates are considerably lower than ten years ago.

Development of public spending on education

Since the beginning of the reform era, the Chinese government attached great importance to the development of the educational sector. Besides structural reforms, public spending on education was increased considerably. However, the whole educational sector lagged far behind international standards in terms of quality as well as quantity. Public expenditure on education as a share of the national GDP, which is a common measure to compare educational systems, ranged at only around 2.5 percent in the mid-1990s. In 1993, the government announced the plan to increase educational spending to four percent of the GDP until 2000, but it took 12 more years to reach that target. However, considering that at the same time the GDP grew by double digits most of the years, the financial situation of the education sector improved greatly. This manifests itself in the substantially increased number of graduates and quality of degrees. Since achieving the four percent target in 2012, the growth of educational spending, which had reached more than 25 percent per year in the years before, was reduced to levels equaling the GDP growth. Compared to the public spending on education of developed countries, China is still at the lower range and did not reach the OECD average of around five percent of the GDP in 2015.

Spending per student

Even though educational spending in China improved a lot in the last decades, when calculated per student, expenditure is still far behind developed countries. While spending per student on a tertiary level of education in OECD countries averaged nearly 15,600 U.S. dollars in 2016, it reached only 36,300 yuan per student in China in 2018, which is less than one third. This fact sheds some light on the average quality level of the educational system in China on a general basis and reminds us that China is a huge and populous country. Of which, some elite schools in the big cities coexist with vast numbers of schools in the countryside operating on a completely different level of quality.

Public expenditure on education in China from 2011 to 2019

Exclusive Premium statistic

You need a Single Account for unlimited access.

  • Full access to 1m statistics

  • Incl. source references

  • Available to download in PNG, PDF, XLS format

Single Account

only $59 / month *
in the first 12 months
*Duration: 12 months, billed annually, single license

Access to this and all other statistics on 80,000 topics from

$708 / Year

Show detailed source information?
Register for free
Already a member?
Log in

Release date

February 2020



Survey time period

2011 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Note: 1 yuan equals approximately 0.14 U.S. dollars and 0.13 euros (as of April 2020).

Figures have been rounded to provide better understanding of the statistic.
Figures for earlier years have been taken from previous publications.

Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $708 / Year
Basic Account
Get to know the platform

You only have access to basic statistics.
This statistic is not included in your account.

Single Account
Your perfect start with Statista
  • Instant access to 1m statistics
  • Download in XLS, PDF & PNG format
  • Detailed references
$59 / Month *
Corporate Account
Full access

Corporate solution including all features.

* All products require an annual contract; Prices do not include sales tax.

Statistics on "Education in China"

Further Content: You might find this interesting as well

Statista Accounts: Access All Statistics. Starting from $708 / Year
Learn more about how Statista can support your business.