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Education Really Does Pay

read a lot of survey results on a lot of different subjects. I’m
enough of a numbers nerd that no matter the topic, I always flip
to the back for the lists of general statistical information to
see how different groups of people compare with each other in all
kinds of ways.

The one thing that most
dramatically and clearly jumps from the figures is that the more
education you have, the more money you will earn.

Survey after survey, year
after year. Statisticians call it a positive directly proportional
relationship. That is, the dollars you earn rise in direct
proportion to your years of schooling. If you draw a positive
direct correlation on a graph, it’s a straight line, heading up at
a 45-degree angle. That’s just the way it is with education and

The Kentucky Long-Term Policy
Research Center offers more detailed proof in its study,
“Education and the Common Good-The Social Benefits of Higher
Education in Kentucky.”

The report finds that a man
with a four-year college degree will earn $357,000 more over his
lifetime than a high school graduate. A woman will earn $158,000
more (the difference between those, I presume, could be the
subject of a whole other study).

The report revealed several
other benefits. People with college degrees have less use of
public assistance programs and are less likely to spend time in
jail. College graduates give more to charity, spend more time
volunteering, read to their children more often, and are more
familiar with computers and the Internet.

The study concludes that those
benefits don’t mean that investments in higher education are
better than spending on other programs, but that the numbers
“demonstrate in concrete terms a portion of the overall value
to society of Kentucky’s commitment to raising the education level
of its citizens.”

The report can be found through the Internet at

Paul Wesslund


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