Returns from Education
Monetary benefits from education are called as returns. Such benefits accruing to an individual are called as private returns. The sum of all private returns together with the taxes on income paid by individuals is known as social returns. In the context of education, costs for various courses are first calculated. Returns to these courses over a life time are then computed based on factors like total years of working (i.e. working span), expected or average returns or earnings, etc.
The life time returns are then calculated for unit costs or per unit of expenditure. Two techniques are followed to calculate rates of return to different levels and forms of education. They are: the Net Present Value (NPV) technique and the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) technique. There have been a large number of studies using particularly the IRR technique to compute the economic value of a variety of educational courses. A comprehensive review of these studies was made by Psacharopoulos and Hinchcliffe in 1973 and again updated in 1985. As per this international update on findings of studies on rates of return from sixty countries, the following inferences have been drawn.
a) Social rates of return are lower than private rates of return;b) Social rates to primary education are higher than those to secondary and higher education;c) Social rates for developing countries are higher than those for developed countries; d) Social rates on investments in education are higher than social rates on investment in physical capital (industry, trade, etc) for developing countries.