The return on investment is over time. #35: 2011
By their very definition, libraries are learning organizations. We support the lifelong learning of the communities we support, and we encourage our staff to be inquisitive and keep learning. On one level, I know this to be true, but it’s always reassuring to read and confirm our commitment to learning as a fundamental good. Of course, nothing is more reassuring than numbers, data, and studies!
A recent Canadian study found the rate of return for an undergraduate degree (excluding medicine) was on average 11% per year. The report found that with a post-secondary education, the employment rate was 72.3%, compared to 61.4% for high school graduates. Those without a high school diploma fared even worse and have a 33.6% employment rate!
According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), Canadians who have a university or college degree suffered fewer job losses during the financial crisis of the last two years than those with less education. Eighty percent of university and college graduates between the ages of 25 and 64 are currently employed compared to less than 55% of high school graduates. The unemployment rate amongst college and university graduates is less than 5%, while workers without a high school diploma saw their unemployment rate increase from 8.7% to 11.5% in the last twelve months.
Education also translates into higher earnings. In 2009, the median after-tax income of a recent graduate with a B.A. was $35,168, in comparison to $27,741 for a college graduate. The median after-tax income of a high school graduate was $19,744 and was only $15,523 for workers without a high school diploma. (Just a note to my American readers: Canadian income tax rates are significantly higher, so you can easily add $8,000-$10,000 to the base incomes.) With a three to four year investment of $40.000-$120,000 (depending on grants and working and living expenses), the payback will be recouped in six to ten years.
A university or college education more than pays for itself in the long run. Perhaps, the larger issue is that the actual cost of higher education must be acquired upfront while the return on investment reveals itself over time.
firstname.lastname@example.org #36 October 2011