The Economic Case for Investing in Education

McArthur-Gupta, Aimee, June, 2019 | The Conference Board of Canada

This report looks at two under-researched aspects of education investment: the overall economic impact of investing in public education; and the long-run savings in government expenditures that can be achieved by improving education outcomes. The report’s key findings are as follows:

  • Each dollar of public education spending generates $1.30 in total economic impacts to Ontario. At the same time, the inverse holds true for each dollar taken from public education.
  • Public education can generate social benefits, such as a healthier population, a higher standard of living, and a reduction in crime. That lessens demand for Ontario’s social assistance, public health care, and criminal justice services.
  • Through increases in public education spending, Ontario could lift its high school graduation rates to 90.0 per cent, matching the highest in the country and seeing average fiscal savings of $16.4 million per year. That could accrue to total savings of $3.5 billion over the course of two decades.
  • In a reverse scenario, where high school graduation rates instead fall to 82.6 per cent, Ontario would spend an additional $18.0 million each year. Over a 20-year period, that could amount to total fiscal costs of $3.8 billion.
  • Each additional high school graduate saves the Ontario government (on average) $2,767 each year on social assistance, health care, and criminal justice, while each additional high school non-completer costs the province $3,128 each year.
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