This morning I was reading an article which referred me to a paper called “The Economic Value of Opportunity Youth” (http://www.serve.gov/new-images/council/pdf/econ_value_opportunity_youth.pdf). Here are excerpts from the introduction that talk about why we should be supporting initiatives like KEYS Service Corps that help youth succeed in adulthood.
“In their early adult years, it is important for youth to gain additional skills through further educational, training,
and work experience. Yet, many of America’s youth are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor
market – they are not investing in their human capital or earning income. Their disconnection represents a significant loss of economic opportunity for the nation. This report examines the status of these ‘opportunity youth’. For the 16-24 age group, we estimate that at least 6.7 million (17%) are currently ‘opportunity youth’. These youth are disproportionately male and from minority groups, but substantial rates are found for all youth groups. Opportunity youth may have dropped out of high school or college and been unable to find work; may have been involved in the criminal justice system; may have mental or health conditions that have inhibited their activities; or may have care-giving responsibilities in their families…
The economic burden of opportunity youth is not just felt by the youth themselves. Both taxpayers and society lose out when the potential of these youth is not realized. Opportunity youth are less likely to be employed and more likely to rely on government supports. In addition, they report worse health status and are more likely to be involved in criminal activity. This has costly implications for taxpayers and for society both now and in the future…
The economic potential of an opportunity youth cohort is very large. Considered over the full lifetime of
a cohort of 6.7 million opportunity youth who are aged 16-24, the aggregate taxpayer burden amounts to
$1.56 trillion in present value terms. The aggregate social burden is $4.75 trillion. These costs ‘roll over’ each
year because each year brings a new cohort of opportunity youth…
Overall, the economic burden from failing to invest in all of America’s youth is substantial. More education,
better training, as well as social supports will be needed to alleviate this burden.”
By making sure all of our youth succeed we make sure all of us have a better present and future.