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Returns to investment in education: a decennial review of the global literature


  • George Psacharopoulos
  • Harry Anthony Patrinos


In the 60-plus year history of returns to investment in education estimates, there have been several compilations in the literature. This paper updates Psacharopoulos and Patrinos and reviews the latest trends and patterns based on 1120 estimates in 139 countries from 1950 to 2014. The private average global return to a year of schooling is 9% a year. Private returns to higher education increased, raising issues of financing and equity. Social returns to schooling remain high. Women continue to experience higher average returns to schooling, showing that girls’ education remains a priority.

Suggested Citation

  • George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2018. "Returns to investment in education: a decennial review of the global literature," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(5), pages 445-458, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:26:y:2018:i:5:p:445-458
    DOI: 10.1080/09645292.2018.1484426

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    1. repec:eee:injoed:v:66:y:2019:i:c:p:214-222 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Kotschy, Rainer & Prettner, Klaus & Schünemann, Johannes, 2018. "Health and Economic Growth: Reconciling the Micro and Macro Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 11940, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Philip Oreopoulos & Uros Petronijevic, 2019. "The Remarkable Unresponsiveness of College Students to Nudging And What We Can Learn from It," NBER Working Papers 26059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Domenico Rossignoli & Sara Balestri & Simona Beretta & Mario A. Maggioni, 2019. "International Child Sponsorship and School Performance: Evidence from Goma (DRC)," DISEIS - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo dis1905, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo (DISEIS).
    5. Tillmann Heidelk, 2019. "The Returns to Education in the Context of a Natural Disaster: Evidence from the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti," Working Papers ECARES 2019-17, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. repec:zag:zirebs:v:22:y:2019:i:1:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jones Sam & Trifkovi? Neda & Sohnesen Thomas, 2018. "The evolution of private returns to education during post-conflict transformation: Evidence from Mozambique," WIDER Working Paper Series 143, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. World Bank Group, 2018. "AFCW3 Economic Update, Fall 2018," World Bank Other Operational Studies 30868, The World Bank.
    9. World Bank Group, 2019. "Tanzania Economic Update, January 2019," World Bank Other Operational Studies 31242, The World Bank.
    10. repec:eee:telpol:v:43:y:2019:i:4:p:353-360 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Teresa Molina & Ivan Rivadeneyra, 2019. "The Labor Market Effects of Eliminating University Tuition in Ecuador," Working Papers 201901, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.

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