Increased levels of education frequently lead to significant differences in wages paid. In 2017, the Current Population Survey indicates that a person with a bachelor’s degree earned a median income of $24,000 more per year than a person with a high school diploma.
While educational attainment usually leads to higher pay, each additional year of schooling also represents additional public dollars spent to educate that student. These students become workers and taxpayers, nonetheless, and contribute to the economy in many ways.
In this visualization and brief, we examine 12 typical paths through Georgia’s public education into the workforce. We provide the cost to educate each student, the year at which each student’s taxes paid become equivalent to the amount to educate them, and the amount of taxes paid by age 65 above and beyond the cost of their public education.
Please Note: These estimates represent long-run fiscal impacts for these specific and representative paths. There are vast and potentially infinite numbers of available education paths, and the expenditures and taxes paid here only address these 12 specific examples. We do not analyze whether an additional year of education directly causes increases in earnings. For these 12 example students, we assume they earn the average amount in wages for people with their degree in their geographic area.
Author: Nicholas Warner, research associate; and Emily Franklin, public finance fellow