The IYF authors focus on the so-called “NEETs” in the United States and Europe. NEET stands for those Not Engaged in Employment/education, or Training. A 2012 U.S. study put the social cost per NEET youth at $37,450, when you factored in lost earnings, public health spending, and other factors. That brings the total cost of 6.7 million NEET American youths to $4.75 trillion, equal to nearly a third of GDP, or half of U.S. public debt.
— The typical income gap between the a college graduate and the a high school dropout has never been higher. Today, college grads earn 80 percent more than people who don’t go to high school.
— A 2009 McKinsey report estimated that if we raised our education performance to the level of Korea, we could improve the US economy by more than $2 trillion. (We could, in other words, add the GDP of Italy to our economy with education reform.)
— Yet another study from NBER estimated that the benefit of a good teacher over an average teacher could improve a student’s future lifetime earnings by $400,000.
— Finally, a study from the Hamilton Project found that $100,000 spent on college at age 18 would yield a higher lifetime return than an equal investment in corporate bonds, U.S. government debt, or hot company stocks.
There is a cost to not educating young people. The evidence is literally all around us.