As my colleague Eduardo Porter wrote this week, there are major returns from going to college. This is true around the world, but it is especially true in the United States.
According to a report released this week
by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, across
the developed world the average person who has graduated from college
(either two-year or four-year) and has any earnings makes about 57% more than a counterpart with no more than a high school education. In the United States, the comparable earnings premium is 77%.
Only four OECD member countries — Chile, Brazil, Hungary and Slovenia — have a higher earnings premium. (The premiums are higher, I should note, if you look only at the universe of people with four-year degrees;
across the OECD, the premium is 68%, and in just the United States, it’s 84%.) ...
You could argue that with the private returns so high to attending
college, maybe the United States government is right not to provide more
subsidies for higher education. But here’s the thing: the public returns to college-going are also huge in the United States, higher than they are in almost every other OECD country.
Here’s a chart showing both the public and private returns of tertiary education for the average man in each developed country.
you can see, the average return to taxpayers is $230,722 in the United
States, versus less than half that, $104,737, across the developed
world. In other words, there should be strong monetary incentives
not only for individual Americans to go to college, but also for
taxpayers to help students actually graduate.