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The External Social Benefits of Higher Education

Edited by Walter W. McMahon and Jennifer A. Delaney

Price: $39.00

ISBN: 979-821804838-9

Coming Soon 2022, Paperback


Pre-order below!

This volume presents original research on the external social benefits of higher education. The external benefits of higher education are the public, or social, benefits that flow to others, including future generations. These are distinguished from private benefits such as individual earnings. We are excited to present this research because these and other external social benefits are shown to be central to productivity growth, economic growth, broader per capita development, and hence to human well-being.


This book is the first and only known comprehensive documentation of the theory, size, and estimated value of the external individual and total social benefits of higher education. This is shown to be a key source of per capita total factor productivity growth and the main rationale on efficiency grounds in economics for public support. The book features the discovery and estimates of five new previously unidentified social benefits of higher education, as well as strong new empirical evidence strengthening the case for significant positive effects on democratization that interacts with human rights, political stability, and, indirectly through these, on higher per capita growth and development. The book also includes endogenization of new ideas through investment in the education of graduate students leading to careers in research and development. These social benefits of higher education, often modest in the short run, are, in the long run, essential to the improved well-being of individuals, communities, and nations.


Walter W. McMahon is a Professor Emeritus of Economics and Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Jennifer A. Delaney is an Associate Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.



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