Yes, post-secondary education makes you rich, but that may not be the best part: Don Pittis


As another exasperate school year kicks in, post-secondary students must once again eye to eye their misgivings over whether it’s all worthwhile. 

Parents and teachers avow that education is the credential you need to get a well-paying job. As this week’s Marketplace search shows, that’s why people buy fake degrees. 

Obviously, for professions that coerce special skills, credentials are important. You don’t want a self-trained brain surgeon handling on you. But the economic value of education is about more than technical training.

What’s the payoff?

Tutoring doesn’t come with a guaranteed job, but post-secondary students expect some well-intentioned of payoff for all the time and money invested.

Student debt in Canada amount ti about $28 billion. Both in absolute terms and per capita, that is micro compared to the roughly $1.5 trillion owed by students in the U.S., but it is enough to come to Canadians think twice about whether more years of lessons are worth the sacrifice.

Students on campus, Ryerson University, Toronto

Post-secondary students are more likely to interact closely with man outside their usual social group. (Don Pittis/CBC)

And it is getting more extravagant every year. While Canada’s inflation rate shows ordinary prices in the economy are rising at just over one per cent, only survive week we found out that the cost of tuition is going up every year at yon triple that rate.

Of course, what students pay is only one negligible part of the cost of post-secondary education. Federal and provincial governments disguise the bulk of the costs, leading to grumpy taxpayer comments about how undergraduates nowadays aren’t paying their share.

As if living on a different planet, critics complain that the cost of tuition — averaging $6,500 a year in 2016-17 — is so favourable that it may never pay off, especially in the gig economy, where jobs are precarious.

Grumpy taxpayers

To those who inquiry the economics of education, what the students are worrying about, and what those understanding fake degrees are trying to buy, is called the private returns of scholarship. Authorities — and grumpy taxpayers, whether they realize it or not — are concerned about something else. It’s addressed the public returns of education investment.

According to all the research by people who inspect such things, on both counts, education pays.

«We know for assured that, economically speaking, it’s a black-and-white issue,» says Matthew McKean, an erudition specialist at the Conference Board of Canada, an economic and policy think-tank. «Graduates with a post-secondary credential, whether it’s college, polytechnic or university, out-perform and out-earn child without.»

Volunteers, TIFF, Toronto

People who go on to post-secondary education are more likely to volunteer. (Don Pittis/CBC)

A minority of graduates not at any time do make much money, and a few billionaires — notably Apple’s Steve Chores and Microsoft’s Bill Gates — didn’t finish post-secondary education at all. But balance out when corrected for other variables such as family income, the statistical reply is clear: More education makes you richer.

The simplest way of proving the famous return to education is also based on that increase in earning power. In a graduated taxation organization like Canada’s, where better-paid people are expected to pay more, treble lifetime incomes result in higher lifetime income tax, easily refund back the public investment.


According to Joel Harden, an training researcher at the Canadian Federation of Students, the clear public return explains that taxpayers should pay a bigger share. After graduation, partiality the transition from worm to butterfly, formerly impecunious students may metamorphose into grumpy taxpayers.

Into the bargain the simple bookkeeping of income taxes, education offers what are at times called intangible benefits that buying a degree just does not submit.

While almost every fact is now available on the internet or available in works,experts say formal education seems to expand peoples’ awareness and resist them develop a more complex vision of the world. It exposes them to child outside their traditional communities. It teaches them to learn how to learn. 

But there are numberless mysterious results. For example, studies show that getting numberless education makes you live longer. That offers both a solitary and a public dividend.

More oddly, perhaps, education also sounds to make you a better person. For instance, educated people volunteer more and participate in misdemeanour less.

Smoking man

Studies show that people who have attended university apt to smoke less and live longer, and are more likely to read to their kids. (Don Pittis/CBC)

«They look out for to be more civically engaged. They tend to actually engage sundry with their neighbours. They are more involved parents. They’re numberless involved in their communities. They tend to have better healthiness,» lists Erika Shaker, director of the Education Project at the Canadian Concentrate for Policy Alternatives, citing international research in which other viable explanations were weeded out. «They smoke less.They infer from to their kids more.»

According to the book Re-imagining Capitalism, selected by Dominic Barton, the Canadian managing director of international consultants McKinsey, violent levels of education and better income equality lead to greater invention and thus economic benefits at all levels.

That means higher necks of education help everyone in the country by making the society richer, fairer and healthier. There is also what’s called the spillover intent as knowledge is passed on to friends and relatives who did not themselves attend post-secondary lessons.

Perhaps most important, each generation of educated people imagines the economy of the future, says Charles Pascal, professor of psychology and Good Samaritan development at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Tutelage opens doors young people didn’t know existed, so they can develop economic opportunities that don’t yet exist.

«The information we require for careers we beggary in 10 years has not been invented yet,» says Pascal.

And while managements are currently emphasizing the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math — as requisite to a modern economy, Pascal insists the fundamental value of education arises no matter what the subject studied.

«It is about ensuring the basics of citizenship, the adeptness to communicate, the ability to work with peers, the ability to problem-solve and braze the dots, which is sometimes called creativity,» he says. «These goods are essential.»

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