By Bill Jabjiniak, Economic Development Director
We have all heard that getting an education pays, especially a college or post-secondary education. Education Pays, published by the College Board of Advocacy & Policy Center, inspires economic developers and workforce development practitioners to consider new approaches to growing an economy. Effective economic development programs must now incorporate efforts to attract and expand a well-educated population to drive short- and long-term community benefits, many of which are highlighted – and quantified – below.
The most recent three-year study (2007-2010) identifies significant differences for individuals with a college education compared to those without, and illustrates why higher education needs to be at the forefront of any contemporary economic development strategy.
- Earnings: Higher average earnings for adults with college degrees were an important outcome of higher education. The typical bachelor’s degree recipient can expect to earn about 66% more during their 40-year working life than the typical high school graduate earns over the same period. Their earnings increased exponentially more with the number of years of education they have had.
- Earnings over Time by Education Level and Gender: In 2008, median earnings for females ages 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree or higher were 79% higher than median earnings for females with a high school diploma, and the earnings premium for males was 74%. These earnings differentials were 60% and 54%, respectively, a decade earlier.
- Education, Earnings, and Tax Payments: Higher levels of education lead to both higher levels of earnings for individuals and higher tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments. For those who qualified for and received Medicaid, the 2010 census found that the percentage was three times higher for households with high school graduates ages 25 and older than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Other economic benefits: The gap between the employment and unemployment rates of the two groups grew even farther apart. And because those with college degrees are more likely to be employed, they also have as a benefit health and pension benefits with their jobs. Consequently, they are less likely to need or rely on public income support payments and other public social services.
- Social support programs: Estimates of savings to taxpayers in terms of the cost for providing public social services for individuals earning a four-year higher ed degree vs. those with just a high school diploma ranged from $32,600 for white women to $108,700 for black men.
- Health benefits: The study found that behaviors such as smoking, exercise, obesity and other health related behaviors are highly correlated with education levels. Which then brings us back to the prior point that college graduates tend to have jobs with wellness programs and health insurance plans, and therefore if they do become sick, which is less likely according to the study, they will not have to rely on public programs for their illness.
- Other societal benefits: College-educated adults have higher rates of voting and volunteering than others. They’re more likely to become involved in the community and contribute or provide services to others that otherwise would be paid for by taxpayers. For example, adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, 43% volunteered for a median 54 hours while among high school grads, 19% volunteered for a median of 48 hours. As for voting stats, the voting average for adults 25-64 with college degrees was 79% vs. only 53% for the same age group with high school diplomas.
- Family Influence: Lastly, the study found that children in families where the parents graduated from college are more likely to enroll and graduate in college than those families with parents with no graduate degrees.
In Mesa, we believe that higher education IS economic development. Our existing post-secondary institutions like A.T. Still, ASU Polytechnic, Mesa Community College and Benedictine University opening in fall 2013, all provide quality education for our residents to obtain a degree that creates additional opportunities for a brighter future and produces individuals who contribute to the community in a myriad of ways.
To learn more, visit http://advocacy.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files Education_Pays_2010.pdf and www.mesaaz.gov/economic.
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