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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

NYU: Estimating the Economic Value of Educational Attainment

A new study co-authored by Dr. Virginia Chang, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences with New York University College of Global Public Health, was published in The Milbank Quarterly titled “The Economic Value of Education for Longer Lives and Reduced Disability.”

Policymakers often frame the value of educational attainment in terms of economic outcomes (eg, employment, productivity, wages). But that approach may understate the value of education if it ignores the economic value of both longer lives and the reduced disability associated with more education. In this article, researchers estimated the present value of the longer life and reduced disability associated with higher educational attainment at age 25 through age 84. They used prospective survival data and cross-sectional disability data from the National Health Interview Survey-Linked Mortality Files and drew on published estimates of the economic value of a statistical life. In addition, they used data from the Current Population Survey—Annual Social and Economic supplement to estimate the present value of education for lifetime earnings at age 25 through age 64 in order to provide a benchmark for comparing the value of education for health.

The study’s findings concluded that the value of education for longer, healthier lives may surpass the value for earnings. Estimates of the economic value of the social determinants of health, such as education, can help policymakers prioritize those policies that provide the greatest value for population health.

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