Expenditure on education – Overview and regional breakdown (management levels)

According to Statistics Austria educational expenditure in the public sector was 18,842.5 million euros in 2015, i.e. 5.5% of gross domestic product (GDP).

At approx. 52.6% (9.9 billion euros) in 2015, more than half of educational expenditure was funded by the federal government (incl. public-law corporations), followed by the provinces including Vienna at 33.7% (6.4 billion euros). 13.7% (2.6 billion euros) was spent here by local authorities and school boards (joint administration of multiple schools through associations of municipalities).

Statistics Austria also uses the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) to calculate data for public expenditure on education so these figures can be reported to UNESCO/OECD/EUROSTAT (UOE). They then vary slightly from the above figures from the Statistics for expenditure on education (also included in the annual publication „Bildung in Zahlen“). This is because the Statistics focus on the transparency of cash flows, while the UOE (UNESCO/OECD/Eurostat) wants to ensure data can be compared internationally via standardised rules for evaluation and recording. Only the statistics for expenditure on education are reported here.


Since 2000 public expenditure on education grew continuously by 70.3%, rising from 11.07 billion euros to 18.84 billion euros in 2015. This corresponds to average annual growth of 3.62%.

In these 15 years educational expenditure exceeded economic output, which saw an average increase of 3.25% per year. In relation to GDP (gross domestic product), public expenditure on education above all increased from 2009 onwards. While spending grew at a similar rate between 2000 and 2008 (up on average 3.88%) and after 2009 (up on average 3.32%), GDP in fact did slightly better in the first period until 2008 (averaging 0.19 percentage points more). However, it has since then seen a significant fall – on average 1 percentage point lower. This was partly also due to weaker economic growth when the financial crisis made itself felt in the second period (growth was even negative in 2009). Since 2000 overall public expenditure on education has outstripped economic output by 8.98 percentage points.

For an international comparison of the cost levels of a public education system, expenditure is also considered in relation to economic output. This averaged 5.28% of GDP from 2000-2015. Here too figures until 2008 were slightly lower (5.11%) than from 2009 (5.49%).

To appreciate real growth rates for overall public expenditure on education, inflation should also be considered. Averaging 1.97% per year since 2000, inflation has fallen well below the increased spend on education, with real growth in this expenditure reaching 27.06% over the entire 15-year period. Adjusted for inflation, the annual increase was 1.62%.

As regards the regional breakdown (or more precisely, the management levels), there has been no relevant shifting of the cost burden since 2000. Just over half (average 53.0%) was funded by the federal government (incl. public-law corporations), around a third by the provinces including Vienna (average 33.8%) and the remainder (13.2%) by the local authorities and school boards. It should be noted here that although Vienna is simultaneously a province (Land) and a municipality, it is only counted among the provinces here.

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