Why Does the Government Spend So Much on Education?


While we might question why the government spends so much on education, the data show that we are spending more per student than any other major developed nation. In fiscal 2016, the U.S. spent $13,847 per pupil, compared to $4,720 in 1966. This is nearly double the level of the United Kingdom and 28% higher than France. Only Switzerland, Norway and Luxembourg spend more than we do. The United States is also a global leader in the field of education, with more graduates than ever pursuing the field than any other country.

In 2011 alone, the Central African Republic spent PS28 billion on education. In Ghana, the figure was 30 percent. While these numbers may not be representative of what we spend on education, they are significant. Moreover, in developing countries, education accounts for a large proportion of government resources. In the United States, government spending on education represents a third of GDP. But, there is a disparity between rich and poor.

While private universities are the largest beneficiary of government funding, public universities tend to attract more liberal students. State spending on higher education is about four times greater than local expenditures, and 86 percent of it goes toward operating costs. While local spending typically involves community college systems, state spending goes to four-year institutions. And, of course, veterans’ educational benefits account for eight percent of state and local education spending. For the most part, education is a very good investment.

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