Inquiry Paper No. 20: On the Investment Payoff of Higher Education

A recent paper entitled “The Investment Payoff” purports to identify a number of significant benefits from higher education – increased personal income, lower unemployment, improved health, reduced reliance on public assistance, more volunteerism, and increased electoral participation. Readers are subtly led to conclude that increased spending on higher education would mean more of those desirable benefits. The weakness of the paper, however, is that it merely shows correlations between the group of college degree holders and the favorable outcomes. Policy makers should not be swayed by “The Investment Payoff” into putting additional resources into higher education.

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