Edited by John Weiss and David Potts
Chapter 11: Measuring Benefits from Education
David Potts INTRODUCTION The argument for using cost–benefit analysis (CBA) in the social sectors is less widely accepted than for other sectors. In the education sector in particular there are certain levels of education where issues of basic needs and human rights are concerned. The second UN Millennium Development Goal is to ‘ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling’. Surely the issue then is not whether to provide primary education but how to. Most countries also have a target to widen access to secondary education with the intention eventually to provide universal access. What then is the need for CBA if education is regarded as a merit good? While such arguments have some validity, there are still questions to be asked about the efficiency of expenditure on education, and the tools available to the investment analyst can be used to answer them. The first question to consider is whether it is ultimately intended that a particular level of education should be open to universal access. Clearly this is not the case for higher education or for vocational based technical education. For both these activities a major reason for expansion of provision is to provide the skills necessary for economic development and the extent of access will depend to some extent on the skill requirements of the economy. However, even for primary and secondary education there are some questions to be asked. In a context of limited education budgets how...
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