January 22, 2019

Majority of U.S. Public Supports High-Skilled Immigration

Educational attainment methodology

Data on the educational attainment level of populations for advanced economies (International Monetary Fund’s 2015 list) with immigrant populations of 500,000 or more and an immigrant share of about 10% or greater in 2015 are based on United Nations data. Education data were collected and harmonized between 2016 and 2018.5 Data used in this report were obtained from publicly available online sources, micro-data approved for use by Pew Research Center, and customized tabulations provided by national statistical offices.

Unless otherwise noted, figures in this report are based on 2015 populations ages 25 years and older. Also, in most countries, International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011 education levels are used for categorizing educational attainment. Categories include level 2 or lower (less than secondary), 3 (secondary) and 4 or higher (postsecondary). Below is a list of data sources for each country, as well as country-specific assumptions.

Respondents in censuses and surveys not indicating their place of birth or education level are not included.

Immigrants are those born outside of the country, even if they were born to citizen parents living outside of the country or born in territories outside of these countries (for example, American citizens in Puerto Rico, UK citizens born in UK territories, French citizens born in French overseas departments).

Most data are from 2015, but data were unavailable for some countries for that year. Since characteristics of migrant populations do not change dramatically in a single year, slight differences in years are assumed to be minor.

Australia

Australia Survey of Education and Work (2015) accessed as customized tables provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. “Year 11 or under” is considered less than secondary. “Year 12 or equivalent” is considered secondary. “Advanced diploma/Diploma/Certificate III & IV” and “Bachelor degree or higher” is considered postsecondary. The analysis in this report for Australia covers adults ages 25 to 74.

Austria

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

Belgium

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

Canada

Labor Force Survey (2016) accessed as customized data tables provided by Statistics Canada. “No certificate” is considered less than secondary. “High school completed” and “High school graduate, some postsecondary” is considered secondary. “Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree” is considered postsecondary.

Decennial figures are from the Canadian census provided via IPUMS International for years 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011.

Denmark

Population register (2015) from Statistics Denmark, accessed as online tables in June 2018. “Primary education” is considered less than secondary, “Upper secondary education” is considered secondary, “Vocational Education and Training, Qualifying educational programmes, short cycle higher education, vocational bachelors educations, bachelors programmes, masters programmes, PhD programmes” is considered postsecondary. The analysis in this report for Denmark covers adults ages 25 to 69.

France

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015). Those living in French Overseas Departments are not included in figures. In the Labor Force Survey those born outside of France, even in overseas departments, are categorized as immigrants.

Decennial figures are from French censuses via IPUMS International for years 1968, 1982, 1990, and 1999. The year 2011 is based on combined data for 2009 to 2013, but unlike other years, includes those born in overseas departments.

Germany

Publicly available education shares (2015) from Eurostat based on Germany’s Labor Force Survey were applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 numbers, 2015 revision of UN migrant stock estimates). “Less than primary, primary and lower secondary education” (ISCED 2011 levels 0 to 2) is considered less than secondary. “Upper secondary and postsecondary non-tertiary education” (ISCED 2011 levels 3 and 4) is considered secondary. “Tertiary completed (ISCED 2011 levels 5 to 8) is considered postsecondary. The analysis in this report for Germany covers adults ages 25 to 74.

Greece

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

Ireland

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

Israel

Israel Labor Force Survey (2015) accessed as customized tables of population estimates provided by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Education levels based on ISCED 1997.

Italy

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

Netherlands

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

New Zealand

New Zealand census (2013) accessed as customized tables provided by Statistics New Zealand for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand license. “No qualification” is considered less than secondary. “School qualification” is considered secondary. “Vocational qualification and university” is considered postsecondary.

Norway

Population register (2015) data from Statistics Norway, accessed as online tables in October 2016. “No education” is considered less than secondary. “Upper secondary education” is considered secondary. “Tertiary vocational education, higher education long and short” is considered postsecondary.

Singapore

Singapore census (2010) accessed as customized tables provided by the Singapore Department of Statistics. Highest qualification achieved of “no qualification, primary, lower secondary” considered as less than secondary. “Secondary” considered secondary. “Postsecondary, polytechnic, professional qualification and other diploma and university” considered postsecondary. Figures do not include non-permanent migrants, a population that could result in an additional population of a million or more. The analysis in this report for Singapore covers non-students ages 15 and older.

Spain

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

Sweden

Population register (2015) from Statistics Sweden, accessed as online tables in October 2016. ISCED 1997 categories of “1 and 2” considered less than secondary, “3C and 3A” considered secondary and “4 or higher” considered postsecondary. The analysis in this report for Sweden covers adults ages 25 to 74.

Switzerland

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

United Kingdom

Labor Force Survey (2015) education-level shares from Eurostat micro-data applied to foreign-born and native-born population counts in 2015 from the United Nations Population Division (2017 revision of World Population Prospects for 2015 population numbers, 2017 revision of UN migrant stock estimates for 2015).

United States

The 2015 figure is from the American Community Survey (2015) accessed via IPUMS. “No schooling” through “12th grade, no diploma” is considered less than secondary. “Regular high school diploma, GED, some college, 1 or more years of college credit, but no degree” is considered secondary. “Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, professional and Doctoral degree” is considered postsecondary. Person weights provided by IPUMS used to compute population counts by nativity and education levels.

Decennial figures are from the U.S. decennial census provided via IPUMS International for years 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010. Postsecondary technical education considered some college.

  1. Hong Kong was not included as most of its immigrants are from China; they are considered by some as not being international migrants.