The Price We Pay: Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education

Clive R. Belfield and Henry Levin, Editors
The Brookings Institution Press
2007

If a year's worth of 18-year-old dropouts graduated from high school, federal and state governments would receive an additional $156 billion over their working lives from income taxes paid on higher earnings. Even in a trillion-dollar economy, those billions amount to real money equal to about 1.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to The Price We Pay: Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education, edited by Clive R. Belfield and Henry M. Levin.

A punchier title for this book might be "Support Schools and Save Money." This 2007 publication cites the costs rung up by inadequate school systems and is the work of 13 education experts, from Sigal Alon of Tel Aviv University to Tamara Wilder of the Teachers College at Columbia University. The book digs into the financial impact that poor education has on the labor market, welfare and public assistance, crime, and health care. The authors believe that education reforms today will definitely pay off tomorrow. For example, every person who graduates from high school will save the government $39,000 in health-care costs.

Additionally, the book presents intervention strategies to strengthen American schools. Preschool and community-learning reforms top the list. These experts argue (statistically, of course) that the financial benefits of education far outweigh the costs of fixing problems in the classrooms. Check out the book here.

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