Education in its broadest terms is the transfer of knowledge from one person to another. In this respect, education can be viewed as the catalyst for an evolved society. Humans learn and grow through education.
The Effects of Public Education on Societies As one caveman taught another how to use the wheel, carts were built, making transport easier. This decreased work load made time for other activities, such as drawing. It also connected one group to another. Therefore, the mere transfer of knowledge caused society to evolve into civilized groupings.
Once writing was developed, human populations created a system of education, the precursor to what is known today as public education. Public education, or education provided by the government, is broadly offered across the world. In the United States, elementary school is compulsory, and the individual states determine the legal dropout age (the youngest being 16, per the National Center for Education Statistics) and any credit limits required. Ergo, public education is a huge governmental expense, as virtually every child is entitled to it. It is because of its theorized societal benefits that governments foot the bill for public education.
One of the main arguments for public education is that, as individuals in a society become more knowledgeable, the entire population becomes more knowledgeable. As students socialize with each other and participate in team activities, they learn to work together and for the benefit of the group. This prepares them to work towards community goals. In a report prepared for the Education Law Center, the impact on society as a whole was referred to as the spillover effect. As individuals derived benefit from education, society did as well. One of the most compelling benefits that spills over to society is a reduced crime rate. There is substantial evidence that the relationship is causal. A particular study found that Caucasian men age 30-34 that did not finish high school were four times more likely to have been incarcerated than their graduated counterparts, according to the National Education Law Center.
Another significant societal benefit is better health. Public school systems encourage healthy eating habits and healthy personal habits such as hand-washing, and discourage negative habits such as smoking and recreational drug use. This has led to a published statement by the World Health Organization that public education directly contributes to the overall health of society. Public education is also thought to improve the acceptance of diversity and the likelihood of civic involvement later in life.
The Effects of Higher Education on US Society There is also a relationship between higher education (technical/community college or university) and social benefit. Higher education leads to innovation and critical thinking, which in turn benefits US society by increasing its gross domestic product, as well as improving lives through technological advances in a myriad of industries. In addition, communities with populations with higher levels of education tend to have decreased poverty and infant mortality rates. These adults usually work better jobs, are less likely to use social safety net programs and are more likely to increase the tax base revenue. They are also more likely to vote and participate in civic activities, according to College Board.