Infographic: What Did World Leaders Study at School?
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What Did World Leaders Study at School?

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What Did World Leaders Study at School?

What Did World Leaders Study at School?

When it comes to the extremely challenging job of running a nation, a university education can help in setting up a leader for success. The vast majority of heads of government have some sort of post-secondary education – 83%, in fact – but their areas of study vary greatly.

Some leaders, like Alain Berset of Switzerland, specifically studied political science or law in university. Other leaders, such as Paraguayan president, Horacio Cartes, took a more roundabout path to the top, having studied aviation mechanics in the United States.

The following maps, from SavingSpot, are an informative look at what national leaders around the world studied in school.

Note: Hover over the maps to learn about leaders and their educational background.

North America

Donald Trump: America’s president holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.

Justin Trudeau: Canada’s prime minister holds two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia.

Enrique Peña Nieto: Mexico’s president holds a law degree from Universidad Panamerica, and an MBA from the Monterrey Institute of Technology.

Europe

Angela Merkel: Germany’s chancellor has a heavy-hitting educational background. Merkel was educated at Karl Marx University, in Leipzig, where she studied physics from 1973 to 1978. She was awarded a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry in 1986, and was recognized for her proficiency in Russian and mathematics.

Emmanuel Macron: The French president studied philosophy at the University of Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense. As well, Macron obtained a master’s degree in public affairs at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.

Stefan Löfven: Sweden’s prime minister took a more unconventional path to government. After completing military service in the Swedish Air Force, Löfven became a welder and subsequently a union representative. Eventually, Löfven became the first chairman of IF Metall, a newly formed trade union representing over 300,000 workers.

Asia

Vladimir Putin: Before joining the KGB in 1975, Putin studied Law at the Leningrad State University (now Saint Petersburg State University).

Xi Jinping: Xi studied chemical engineering at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University. During this time, China was fully immersed in the Cultural Revolution. Xi studied as a “Worker-Peasant-Soldier student”, which included blocks of time spent doing farm work and studying Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong thought.

Africa

John Magufuli: Tanzania’s president has an extensive educational background, earning masters and doctorate degrees in chemistry from The University of Dar es Salaam.

Uhuru Kenyatta: The Kenyan president studied economics, political science, and government at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

South America

Michel Temer: Brazil’s president attended the Law School of the University of São Paulo, and later completed a doctorate in public law at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo.

Mauricio Macri: Before becoming an analyst at SIDECO Americana, Argentina’s president received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. He also attended Columbia Business School, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Universidad del CEMA in Buenos Aires.

Oceania

Malcolm Turnbull: Australia’s prime minister graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws, before earning a Bachelor of Civil Law at Brasenose College, Oxford.

Enele Sopoaga: The prime minister of the tiny island nation of Tuvalu is one of many world leaders educated in the United Kingdom. Sopoaga earned a Certificate in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University, and a master’s degree from the University of Sussex.

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Politics

Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.

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Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.

Even within the social sciences, polarization covers everything from racial segregation, to labor skill levels, to class divide, to political ideology.

How Do You Quantify Polarization?

Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:

  • How divided is their country?
  • How entrenched is the divide?

The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.

Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.

In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.

Economic AnxietiesWill my family be better off in five years?
Institutional ImbalanceGovernment is viewed as unethical and incompetent.
Class DividePeople with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.
Battle for TruthEcho chambers, and a low trust in media.

Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.

Severely Polarized Countries

Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.

43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.

Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.

Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:

    🇦🇷 Argentina
    🇨🇴 Colombia
    🇺🇸 United States
    🇿🇦 South Africa
    🇪🇸 Spain
    🇸🇪 Sweden

In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.

And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.

Moderately Polarized Countries

The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.

    🇧🇷 Brazil
    🇰🇷 South Korea
    🇲🇽 Mexico
    🇫🇷 France
    🇬🇧 United Kingdom
    🇯🇵 Japan
    🇳🇱 Netherlands
    🇮🇹 Italy
    🇩🇪 Germany
    🇳🇬 Nigeria
    🇹🇭 Thailand
    🇰🇪 Kenya
    🇨🇦 Canada
    🇦🇺 Australia
    🇮🇪 Ireland

Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.

Less Polarized Countries

Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.

    🇮🇩 Indonesia
    🇨🇳 China
    🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
    🇸🇬 Singapore
    🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
    🇲🇾 Malaysia
    🇮🇳 India

It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.

Looking Ahead

Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.

Edelman polarization quote

As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

Data note: Survey conducted: Nov 1 – Nov 28, 2022. Survey included 32,000+ respondents in 28 countries. Russia was omitted from this year’s survey. See page 2 of the report for more details.

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