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The Price We Pay

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

Clive R. Belfield
Henry M. Levin
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 273
  • Book Info
    The Price We Pay
    Book Description:

    While the high cost of education draws headlines, the cost of not educating America's children goes largely ignored. The Price We Pay remedies this oversight by highlighting the private and public costs of inadequate education. In this volume, leading scholars from a broad range of fields -including economics, education, demography, and public health -attach hard numbers to the relationship between educational attainment and such critical indicators as income, health, crime, dependence on public assistance, and political participation. They explore policy interventions that could boost the education system's performance and explain why demographic trends make the challenge of educating our youth so urgent today. Improving educational outcomes for at-risk youth is more than a noble goal. It is an investment with the potential to yield benefits that far outstrip its costs. The Price We Pay provides the tools readers need to analyze both sides of the balance sheet and make informed decisions about which policies will pay off. Contributors include Thomas Bailey (Teachers College, Columbia University), Ronald F. Ferguson (Harvard University), Irwin Garfinkel (Columbia University), Jane Junn (Rutgers University), Brendan Kelly (Columbia University), Enrico Moretti (UCLA), Peter Muennig (Columbia University), Michael Rebell (Teachers College, Columbia University), Richard Rothstein (Teachers College, Columbia University), Cecilia E. Rouse (Princeton University), Marta Tienda (Princeton University), Jane Waldfogel (Columbia University), and Tamara Wilder (Teachers College, Columbia University).

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0865-0
    Subjects: Education, Population Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 The Education Attainment Gap: Who’s Affected, How Much, and Why It Matters
    (pp. 1-18)

    Is excellent education for all America’s children a good investment? We know that education is expensive, but poor and inadequate education for substantial numbers of our young may have public and social consequences that are even costlier. The contributors toThe Price We Payexamine the costs of investing in services to provide excellent education and—equally important—the costs of not doing so.

    A person’s educational attainment is one of the most important determinants of his or her life chances in terms of employment, income, health status, housing, and many other amenities. Unlike other attributes, such as family background...

  5. PART ONE Assessing the Scope of the Challenge

    • 2 Beyond Educational Attainment: A Multifaceted Approach to Examining Economic Inequalities
      (pp. 21-47)

      In this chapter we describe the many inequalities between blacks and whites in ten broadly defined domains: academic achievement; pregnancy, childbirth, neonatality, and infancy; access to health care; young children’s actual health; early childhood preparation and school readiness; use of non-classroom hours in the school years; health of school-age children; educational attainment; economic security; and adult non-economic lifetime characteristics.¹ These inequalities are well known, and none of the specific indicators of inequality that we describe will be surprising to most readers.

      The inequalities and the policies enacted to remedy them, however, are usually isolated from one another. In an effort...

    • 3 Diversity and the Demographic Dividend: Achieving Educational Equity in an Aging White Society
      (pp. 48-73)

      The united states is facing a unique moment in its demographic history, for two reasons. First, as the third largest nation in the world, behind prosperous China and India, the United States has a vital resource that gives it a productive advantage over its industrialized peers—namely, people. In contrast with several western European nations that have been coping with the challenges of below-replacement fertility for several years, the United States sees its population continue to grow, albeit slowly, owing to high levels of both immigration and fertility.¹ Population growth replenishes the labor force with new workers, but in today’s...

    • 4 Implications of Educational Inequality in a Global Economy
      (pp. 74-96)

      Education is a fundamental basis of productivity growth. Not only are educated workers more productive, but the technological changes that generate productivity are dependent on the availability of an educated workforce—both the scientists and engineers who directly generate innovations and the workers in many related occupations who support innovative work and create the economic and technical infrastructure on which innovation is based. In the past, the U.S. education system produced an educated workforce adequate to maintain a relatively high level of productivity growth, and at least the postsecondary education system was considered the best in the world. Reflecting what...

  6. PART TWO Quantifying the Costs of Inadequate Education

    • 5 Consequences for the Labor Market
      (pp. 99-124)

      Because of the strong relationship between years of completed education and annual earnings, education is the traditional route to upward mobility in the United States. The relationship is shown in figure 5-1. Although there is little increase in earnings for each year of completed schooling before the eleventh grade, a steep earnings gain accrues for each year beginning with high school completion. This relationship has increased dramatically since the mid-1960s. In 1964 a high school dropout earned 64 cents for every dollar earned by someone with at least a high school degree.¹ In 2004 the high school dropout earned only...

    • 6 Consequences in Health Status and Costs
      (pp. 125-141)

      People with more education typically live longer and healthier lives. High school graduates, for example, live about six to nine years longer than high school dropouts.¹ They also are less likely to suffer from illness or disability in a variety of forms. In this chapter I seek to measure these benefits in dollar terms. I focus on the association between educational attainment and (1) reductions in morbidity and mortality and (2) reductions in government spending on health care. I examine these effects using a large, comprehensive health data set, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, covering the non-institutionalized civilian population in...

    • 7 Crime and the Costs of Criminal Justice
      (pp. 142-159)

      Criminologists and educators have long speculated that increasing the educational achievement of young males might lower the probability that they engage in criminal activities. There are several theoretical reasons for expecting a relationship between education and crime. First, and most important, schooling increases the economic returns on legitimate work. Second, education may directly increase the psychological cost of committing crime. Finally, schooling could alter preferences in indirect ways. For example, education might help teenagers better understand the consequences of their decisions and ultimately make them more farsighted, more risk adverse, or both.

      From the policy point of view, what matters...

    • 8 Welfare and the Costs of Public Assistance
      (pp. 160-174)

      In modern economies, adequate education is a prerequisite for full participation in the labor market and for the achievement of a basic standard of living. People who fail to achieve sufficient educational attainment are put at greater risk for reliance on income-tested safety-net programs. Although there are people who complete high school but still need public assistance, a basic premise in this chapter is that ensuring that all Americans are educated to at least the level of a high school degree will lead to significant reductions in reliance on income-tested safety-net programs.

      In this chapter we explore how three major...

  7. PART THREE Directions for Reform

    • 9 Educational Interventions to Raise High School Graduation Rates
      (pp. 177-199)

      Given the substantial economic benefits of more education, the challenge becomes that of finding educational interventions that would help children attain high school graduation and other educational goals at a reasonable cost. This challenge is harder than it sounds. Although many children live in circumstances that facilitate learning, many others are in families that have low incomes, poor housing, inadequate nutrition, and insufficient dental and health care, which undermine educational progress and limit the benefits derived from good instruction.¹ Additionally, only about 10 percent of a person’s waking hours from birth to age 18 are spent in school, which highlights...

    • 10 The Promise of Early Childhood Education Interventions
      (pp. 200-224)

      To what extent can pre-kindergarten education (pre-K) reduce social and economic inequalities?¹ For pre-K advocates, the answer is straightforward. Substantial gaps exist between children as they enter school, and these gaps persist and are reinforced throughout childhood. Judging from its effectiveness as demonstrated by high quality research investigations, an expansion of preschooling would significantly close these initial gaps and improve children’s economic well-being over the longer term. And because the state incurs much of the burden of economic and social inequalities, there is no efficiency-versus-equity trade-off from investing public funds in preschooling. Investing in preschool serves both goals.

      The story...

    • 11 Toward Excellence with Equity: The Role of Parenting and Transformative School Reform
      (pp. 225-254)

      Closing the achievement gap between children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds is a long-term challenge with long-term implications for the United States. There are reasons to be hopeful. Progress has been made in narrowing racial test-score gaps since the early 1970s, when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) began tracking test scores at the national level by racial group.¹ For example, the black-white reading score gap for 17-year-olds narrowed by more than 60 percent between 1971 and 1988 (although it then widened slightly), and evidence exists that the black-white IQ gap is narrowing.² Further, recent national data show...

    • 12 The Need for Comprehensive Educational Equity
      (pp. 255-264)

      The inadequate and inequitable opportunities offered to most low-income and African American and Latino youths today are the greatest challenge facing America’s schools and social institutions, and they pose a major threat to our country. Lack of opportunity is a social threat because inadequately educated people are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated, become pregnant, use drugs, experience violence, and require public assistance. It is an economic threat because it diminishes the competitiveness of America’s current and future workforce. And it is a civic threat because a person’s ability to function productively as a civic participant, to be a...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 265-266)
  9. Index
    (pp. 267-274)