Social Equality? Schooling Holds the Key

By Shlomo  Maital


   A brilliant Princeton University economics undergrad, and blogger, named Evan Soltas, has at last provided some economics research that both make sense and makes a difference. 

   What he found is this:  The most powerful force for improving social equality and social justice is not income but schooling.  In other words:  Whether kids stay in school and finish high school, and go on to college, is not necessarily related to family income but rather, family history and family educational values.  To quote him:

The high school dropout rate among people whose fathers were dropouts is 22.2 percent. The dropout rate with high-school-grad fathers is 2.9 percent. Let’s assume that the social value of a high school degree is $30,000 per graduate; that’s roughly the difference in average income between non-grads and grads.

   The point is, there is ‘generational echo’.  If a kid drops out, then his kids are far more likely too to drop out.  The gap between a high-school finisher and non-finisher is $30,000 in income. But if you add up the many pieces of $30,000 across numerous generations, (if you drop out, your kids likely will too, and their kids, and their kids, and  so on)…you get a present value of $1 m.  That means – it is almost infinitely value to invest public money and effort to keep kids in school.   More powerful than redistributing income.

    The Bible says, rather cruelly, that the sins of parents are visited down to the 3rd and 4th generations of children.  According to Soltas, that happens to be true, regarding schooling.  A just society is one where everyone finishes high school, at least. That should be the key focus of public policy.  It’s so simple.  Kudos to a young economist who finally asks good questions and answers them in a clear and relevant way.  [Check out his blog – Evan Soltas].