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How much would it cost and what would the benefits be if blacks and Hispanics graduated from high school, went to college, and graduated from college at the same rate as non-Hispanic whites? The answer to this important question for the future of the nation is explored in this report. The costs of education would be high, increasing by about 20 percent in California and 10 percent in the rest of the nation. But the benefits, in the form of savings in public health and welfare expenditures and increased tax revenues from higher incomes, would be even higher. Indeed, the added costs of providing more education to minorities would be recouped well within the lifetime of taxpayers called upon to make the additional investments. The nation is experiencing a rapid immigration driven increase in the share of Hispanics in the school age population. Failure to increase the educational attainment of this group would result in growing shares of new labor-force entrants having levels of education lower than those prevailing today; in increased income disparities between blacks and Hispanics, on one hand, and Asians and non-Hispanic whites, on the other; and in increased public expenditures for social and health programs for generations to come.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    The Public Benefits of Education

  • Chapter Three

    The RAND Education Simulation Model

  • Chapter Four

    Effects of Demographic Change on Educational Attainment

  • Chapter Five

    Costs and Benefits of Closing the Educational Attainment Gap for Blacks and Hispanics

  • Chapter Six

    Effects of Immigration on Education

  • Chapter Seven

    Discussion and Next Steps

  • Appendix A

    Data Used to Estimate Public Program Benefits

  • Appendix B

    Estimated Relationships Between Educational Attainment and Spending on Social Programs

  • Appendix C

    The Elderly: a Special Case

  • Appendix D

    Savings in Program Expenditures and Increases in Tax Revenues and Disposable Income Associated with Increased Educational Attainment

  • Appendix E

    Education Flow Rates

  • Appendix F

    Annual Flows for Births, Deaths, and Immigration

  • Appendix G

    Education Cost Estimates

  • Appendix H

    Adult Population in 1990 and Projected to 2015

  • Appendix I

    Estimates of Costs and Benefits

"In this powerful and insightful work, the authors examine the policy implications of closing the gap in educational attainment by equalizing high school graduation rates, first-year college-going rates, college retention rates, and finally college-completion rates…their assumptions are reasonable and their analytic techniques appropriate because their conclusions--that the benefits of each of the equalization strategies far exceed the costs--are powerful enough to make this a must-read for all educational policy makers as well as researchers. Highly recommended for general readers, uppper-division undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and researchers."

- CHOICE Magazine

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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