Education Brings Economic Prosperity
April 10, 2005
We believe that Robert L. King, Chancellor of the State University of New York said it well when he stated: "The better educated a population, the more prosperity this state is going to enjoy." And there is research to support this statement. Chancellor King heads the nation's largest single comprehensive system of public higher education with 64 campuses, 413,577 students from every state in the nation and from over 160 countries. We commend the New York State Board of Regents in their determination to enhance the quality of higher education and to establish a greater working connection between New York State's college and universities and its K-12 school systems. These joint efforts on the part of the Regents and SUNY and the entire educational establishment to better prepare the state and the nation's future work force is a sound and most valued investment in the health of the economic condition.
Economic development, as seen by Thomas L. Hungerford of the Levy Economic Institute, is any dollar-based increase in economic activity in an area. Such economic activity can occur through two channels. First, a given economy is able to produce a greater dollar value of output due to increased productivity; and secondly, an economy produces a greater dollar of total output by adding more inputs to it production processes. Improving the quality of education at all levels results in greater economic development through both of these channels. President John F. Kennedy said it well when he stated "Education is the mainspring of our economic and social progress...It is the highest expression of achievement in our society, ennobling and enriching life." And President Ronald Reagan further reinforced that when he said "There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder."
And it is worth noting, that the United States is producing record surpluses on services. These services are in highly educated competencies such as medicine, management, production operations, finance, litigation and other high end professions. Statistical evidence shows that for every additional degree earned, another million dollars of lifetime income will be earned. So when one gets a bachelors degree, they can expect to make a million more dollars over their lifetime as compared to someone with a high school diploma. The same is true of an individual with a masters degree as they can expect to earn about an additional millions dollars in lifetime income than an individual with a bachelors degree. The United States has a huge comparative advantage in fields that require these advanced degrees and skills and the Chancellors comments reflect this need.
Our society is demanding ever more literate workers and citizens. As technology advances and the growth in the American economy is increasingly knowledge based, individuals must be able to communicate at higher levels in order to be effective as economic and social contributors. Evidence suggests that the health and well-being of an individual drastically improves in relation to one's level and quality of education received. And further, there is a preponderance of statistical evidence which shows a positive correlation between the quality and degree of education of a population and the economic health and vitality of a region.
It is reported the six million students throughout America are currently at risk of dropping out of school. High school dropouts find it difficulty to enter the workforce with necessary skills to meet the demands of the nation's global economy. Jobs that require advanced skills are growing; students who have attained a higher level of education will have better employment opportunities and certainly will contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of the economy. Thus, increasing the number of graduates with a quality education will raise national revenues and will reduce billions of dollars in public and private expenditures currently spent on rectifying the shortcomings of a failed education.
Unemployment data by group supports this assumption. High school drop-outs have an unemployment rate of about 8.8% while those with a high school degree have an unemployment rate of about 5.0%, these numbers are all correlated with a national unemployment rate of approximately 5.6% at the time this data was collected earlier in the year. So its clear, that in this global economy that without a reasonable education its harder to survive. Surely the Chancellor had this right on the mark. In this sense, Education can make a future of dependency one of self-sufficience.
Gordon Brown, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer stated it well, "It is because education is the twenty first century road to prosperity that Britain must become the best educated, best trained best skilled country in the world. Unleashing the potential of every individual in our country is going to be the key to economic success." And Jon Kyl, A well known US Senator form Arizona stated, "If we can get our education policy right in America, almost every other goal can be achieved. ...If we want to be strong, we need the best economy in the world. If we want to have a society free of crime, to the extent possible, you educate people to grow up with skills to lead productive lives."
We believe that the Regents Master Plan as articulated by NYS Education Commissioner Richard Mills and the SUNY Master Plan as stated by Chancellor King have it right..."the better educated a population, the more prosperity this state is going to enjoy." Clearly, as we see it... as is the level of the educational experience of an area so intrinsically becomes the economic condition of that area. And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.