Investing in public education may help boost economic opportunities

Economists have suggested through a new study the economic benefits of investing in public education.

According to researchers, investing in education may help boost economic opportunities for the next generation. Researchers say that investing in public education can lead to more upward economic mobility and lower teen pregnancy rates, as well as provide a way to ease income inequality. The researchers, who released their findings in a recent issue of Economic Development Quarterly, added that reducing the high school dropout rate had nearly twice the beneficial effect on upward mobility as on reducing teen birth rates.

The study, which focused on public spending in education and returns from education, as well as taxation, indicated that communities that invested more in education had lower drop-out rates and fewer teen pregnancies.

According to the researchers, poor school quality can lead to a cascade of economic and social ills. For example, the lower the school quality, the higher the dropout rate, which can lead to higher numbers of teen pregnancies, said one of the authors.

The researchers also said that, often, the only way up economically for young people in rural communities is to move out.

Mobility varies throughout the nation, according to the researchers. For example, upward mobility is higher in the Rocky Mountains and Plains regions and in portions of Oklahoma and Texas, while it is lower in the Northeast and Far West.

The researchers used data from federal income tax records, the Historical Database on Individual Government Finances, the Local Education Agency Finance Survey from 1991 to 2000, the American Community Survey from 2006 to 2010, and County Business Patterns.

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