The Public Returns to Public Educational Investments in African American Males

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This paper calculates the public savings (financial benefits) from greater public investments in the education of African American males. Over one-fifth of each age cohort of black males in the U.S. is not a high school graduate. We identify five interventions that would – based on credible research – increase the graduation rate; we also report the public cost of each intervention. We then calculate the lifetime public benefits in terms of increased tax revenues and lower spending on health and crime. In present values for a black male aged 20, these public benefits amount to $256,700 per new graduate and the median intervention would cost only $90,700. The benefit/cost ratio is 2.83. Simply equating the high school graduation rate of black males with that of white males would yield public savings of $3.98 billion for each age cohort. These results suggest that increased investments in education for black males at risk of dropping out of high school should be an economic priority.


Returns to Education



Date Posted: 19 May 2023