The Expense of Not Going to College

There is a cost to not educating young people. The evidence is around us and all over the world.

Stack_of_Books_in_Library_SmallThere are 1.2 billion people between 15 and 24 in the world, according to the International Youth Foundation‘s new Opportunity for Action paper. Although many of their prospects are rising, they are emerging from conditions of widespread poverty and lack of access to the most important means of economic mobility: education. In the Middle East and North Africa, youth unemployment has been stuck above 20 percent for the last two decades. And in the parts of the world where youth unemployment has been low, such as south and east Asia, young people are overwhelmingly employed in the agriculture sector, which leaves them vulnerable to poverty.

Focusing on the United States and Europe, the IYF authors focus on the so-called “NEETs” of the developed world: those Not Engaged in Employment/education, or Training. A 2012 U.S. study put the social cost per NEET youth at $37,450, when you factored in lost earnings, public health spending, and other factors. That brings the total cost of 6.7 million NEET American youths to $4.75 trillion, equal to nearly a third of GDP, or half of U.S. public debt.

Statistics like this are a good reminder that, even though college tuition is famously outpacing median incomes, there is still something more expensive than going to school. Very often, that is not going to school.

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Source: Derek Thompson | The Atlantic