This issue brief explores the links between obstacles students face and educational outcomes.
The health of the people of Kentucky is of high concern for policymakers and citizens alike. Individuals want to live healthy, productive lives, while policymakers recognize that chronic illnesses cost the state in myriad ways. In this brief, we examine the link between educational attainment and health outcomes. We focus on two groups of health outcomes. The first are behavioral and include choices: tobacco use, alcohol use, obesity, and exercise. The second group are outcomes highly associated with these behaviors: heart attack, angina, stroke, and diabetes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that these four diseases may cost Kentuckians over $5 billion annually in lost days at work and medical bills. Our simulations suggest that if Kentucky were to achieve education levels comparable to the U.S., we could reduce those costs by nearly $200 million per year.
Economists and other researchers have long demonstrated the relationship between education and earnings. In this brief, we focus on the relationship between educational attainment and earnings in the state of Kentucky. Our results, in many ways, are unsurprising, as the old ad campaign said, “Education Pays.” What may be surprising is that we demonstrate that education pays not only in the big cities of Lexington and Louisville, but also in the more rural parts of the state, such as eastern Kentucky and western Kentucky.
A positive relationship exists between educational attainment and earnings, which has been well established in the literature through multiple studies. This, in turn, influences the revenues generated for the state of Kentucky through the personal income tax. We predict even the modest change of increasing Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree holders by 1% would increase revenue by $37 million. Kentucky loses between $300 million and $500 million in state tax revenues every year because our educational attainment is lower than the national average.
The individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coupled with the Medicaid expansion in Kentucky makes reducing Medicaid eligibility rates of crucial importance. This brief examines the link between education and eligibility for Medicaid for the citizens of Kentucky. In general, the relationship is nearly mechanical in that higher education leads to higher incomes. Since income is the key determining factor of Medicaid eligibility, and because of the individual mandate eligibility is mostly equivalent to participation, our estimates show that higher education reduces the likelihood that an adult will be on Medicaid or have children and family members on Medicaid. Our results suggest that the state of Kentucky could reduce Medicaid costs by $27 million if we were to increase our education levels modestly and as much as $200 million if we can achieve education levels comparable to the U.S.
Two of the largest federal transfer programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Federal expenditures on SNAP exceeded $74 billion in 2014, and SSI exceeded $3 billion. While these programs provide families in distress with important support, ideally we desire that Kentucky families would not require this kind of assistance. In 2014, over 800,000 Kentuckians received SNAP assistance each month while over 190,000 received SSI. This brief examines the relationship between participation in these programs and educational attainment for Kentuckians. We find that education is highly related to participation and that those with higher education are much less likely to participate. By increasing educational attainment in Kentucky to the U.S. level, we can move people off of these means tested programs saving over $100 million annually.
The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) (Gatton College, University of Kentucky) was commissioned by Kentucky’s Council for Postsecondary Education to examine the implications of education across the Kentucky economy. This study used data on Kentuckians from the American Community Survey (ACS), the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The focus on Kentucky is unique, as most studies of this kind have used only national data. The results have allowed us to examine how education is related to important outcomes related to the Kentucky economy. These studies have also allowed for the unique opportunity to examine and compare the impact of education within different regions of the Commonwealth.
While it is well known that a positive relationship exists between educational attainment and earnings for those who are in the labor market, an important part of how education impacts the well-being of families in Kentucky is the access to employment that it provides. In this brief, we examine the relationship between education and two measures of employment status: unemployment and labor force participation. What we find is quite striking: not only do those with higher education experience less unemployment, they are far more likely to be participating in the labor market. Education leads to better access to employment.
Crime impacts the lives of Kentuckians in myriad ways. It has direct costs to victims and indirect costs through property values and business activity. Citizens and policymakers alike desire to reduce and limit crime. In this brief, we investigate the link between crime rates in Kentucky’s counties and the aggregate level of education. Perhaps surprisingly, higher education, and specifically the percent of the population with a Bachelor’s degree, is associated with lower crime. We find that increasing educational attainment in Kentucky to the U.S. levels could reduce the costs of crime by over $3 million annually.
Student loan debt has received a great deal of attention on in the popular press recently. However, the statistics and data that are frequently presented fail to fully capture the complexity of student loans and student debt. This brief presents a more complete picture of student loan debt, examining not only average debt of student borrowers, but presenting a full assessment of the distribution of debt and the types of schools.