Population size
Mean years of schooling
Population 25 years and older
Gender gap in mean years of schooling
Male advantage, population 25 years and older
Universal lower secondary education reached in
Year 90% of 30-34 years old have at least lower secondary
Not yet achieved

Educational attainment

Greece 1900–2010, population 25 years and older

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Population by age, sex and education

Greece 1900–2010

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Main Findings

In 1900, only 3.1% of the Greece population older than 25 years had received at least lower secondary education. This proportion increased to 11.4% until 1950 and to 66.4% until 2010. By then, about 27.1% of the population aged 25 years or older finished a post-secondary education while 33.6% had primary education or less as their highest educational attainment. Mean years of schooling of the population 25 years or older increased from 1.3 years in 1900 to 3.0 years in 1950 and to 9.2 years in 2010.

Gender and Age

In Greece, gender differences in educational attainment have been persistent and have been only slowly diminishing during the 20th century. In 1900, 5.1% of the men aged 25 years and older had at least lower secondary education, compared to about 0.9% of the women. By 1950 about 18.5% of the men and 10.5% of the women aged 30 to 34 years had achieved at least lower secondary education while for instance this share was only 10.5% and 2.3% for the population aged 65–69. Although completed lower secondary education became universal for women by 2005 (90.7%), Greek men have not yet attained universality. Since 1995, there has been an inverse gender gap in higher education, with larger proportions of women completing post-secondary education than men. In 2010, about 50.5% of women in the 30–34 age group had post-secondary educational attainment, compared to 36.9% of men.

About the Data

The EDU20C estimates of the population of Greece by age, sex and education are based on several census datasets dating back to 1907. Greek censuses provide information on highest educational attainment in decennial intervals for the time since 1951. For the period before 1951, the EDU20C reconstruction relies on literacy data for 1907, 1920 and 1928. For Greece, all 6 education categories (aggregated to 4 before 1950) are available in the reconstruction model.


In the 20th century, Greece was facing changes in the extent of its national territory. Population data from 1889 until 1940 do not cover today’s territory; for these years total population estimates are based on Maddison` s database (2010), while gender and age structure stated in the censuses and Mitchell (2003) respectively are applied. For Greece it was necessary to extend the open-ended age group (80+ years) existing life tables by using a logistic extrapolation of nqx, Lx and ax to get life tables up to the open-ended age group 100+ years. Additionally it was necessary to generate life tables for missing data-points by interpolating/extrapolating life expectancies at birth by sex. The model fits a logistic function to existing life expectancies at birth, given the values of upper and lower asymptotes. Based on these estimated life expectancies we use a function that interpolates the logarithms of the probabilities of dying (nqx) from two life tables to generate a comprehensive set of life tables for the entire reconstruction period. Both R functions are in their methodological core based on the Population Analysis System (PAS) Excel templates E0LGST and INTPLTF/INTPLTM. Additionally, some historical source data on the population structure were only available for broad age groups, what made it  necessary to disaggregate the broad age groups into 5-year age groups with the Karup-King interpolation method and/or to smooth the age groups via cubic spline. Furthermore, it was necessary to interpolate the intercensal data-points for population by age and sex using a linear interpolation function.

Source Data

For Greece the major source of data on population by age, sex and educational attainment in the 20th century originates from the digitised archive and compendia of the Hellenic Statistical Authority/HSA. For the EDU20C reconstruction, we also used information on mortality extracted from the life tables available in the Human Life-table Database (HLD) and in Valaoras “A Reconstruction of the Demographic History of Modern Greece” from 1960.

Did you know?
In 2010, mean years of schooling in Greece (9.2) are similar to Italy (9.0 years), and Spain (9.1).