Thursday, October 15, 2009

Non-Pecuniary Benefits to Schooling

It may pay to stay in school -- even if it doesn't pay...
There’s a new paper which argues that the “nonpecuniary” benefits of schooling are at least as large as the monetary benefits, and perhaps larger. Phillip Oreopoulos of the University of Toronto and Kjell Salvanes of the Norwegian School of Economics and Business argue that

Experiences and skills acquired in school reverberate throughout life, not just through higher earnings. Schooling also affects the degree one enjoys work and the likelihood of being unemployed. It leads individuals to make better decisions about health, marriage, and parenting. It also improves patience, making individuals more goal-oriented and less likely to engage in risky behavior. Schooling improves trust and social interaction, and may offer substantial consumption value to some students. We discuss various mechanisms to explain how these relationships may occur independent of wealth effects, and present evidence that non-pecuniary returns to schooling are at least as large as pecuniary ones

The implication: College may still be a worthwhile investment, despite the erosion in the monetary returns from college since 2000.
(HT Tyler Cowen)

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