Total expenditure on education amounted to 232 billion ISK in 2020, corresponding to 7.9% of GDP. For comparison, total expenditure on education amounted to 66.3 billion ISK, at 2020 prices, in 1980 or 4.6% of GDP and 150 billion ISK in 1998 or 6.8% of GDP.

Considering population trends, expenditure on education increased by 15.4%, in real terms, between 1998 and 2020. Expenditure towards pre-primary education increased by 67% during the period, contributing heavily to the overall increase. Expenditure towards tertiary level education increased by 40%, in real terms, and expenditure towards primary and lower-secondary education increased by 8.4% while expenditure towards upper-secondary education decreased by 12.4% between 1998 and 2020. Despite an overall increase in expenditure on education per capita in the period 1998 to 2020, expenditure on education per capita is still 10.7% lower in real terms than its peak in 2008.

In the attached Statistical Series, the main figures regarding expenditure on education in Iceland is presented for the years 1980-2020, classified by international classification systems.

Private expenditure on education 8.5% in 2020
The share of public expenditure in total education expenditure was 91.6% in 2020, of which the share of local government was 65.2%, increasing from 1998 when local government’s share of public expenditure on education was 59.8%. The share of private expenditure has slightly decreased, from 9.6% of total expenditure on education in 1998 to 8.4% in 2020.

Around 46% of expenditure towards primary and lower-secondary education
In 2020 32% of total expenditure on education was allocated towards primary education, 15% toward lower-secondary education, 13% toward pre-primary education and 16% toward upper-secondary education. Tertiary level expenditures were 17% of the total expenditure on education and expenditure on education not else classified was 8%.

Iceland above the OECD average
Expenditure towards educational institutions in Iceland amounted to 8% of GDP in 2018, which is above the OECD average. The average expenditure towards educational institutions among OECD countries was 5.8% of GDP in 2018.

Expenditure on education in Iceland 1980-2020 – Statistical series