SEL to Reduce Costs

A new study conducted by the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies for Columbia University’s Teacher College shows that for every dollar invested in training in social-emotional learning, there is a return of investment of eleven dollars.

See this 64 page report by Dr. Clive Belfield, et al, here.  Dr. Belfield also conducted a study in 2009 (see below) showing how much money we spend on crime and substance abuse out of the Massachusetts state budget.

By training children in SEL techniques and skills, taxpayers can seriously reduce what is spent every year in violence and crime. 78% of all crime is related in some way to substance abuse. 22% of the Massachusetts state budget is spent on just these two issues.

Annual Spending on Crime and Substance Abuse: Boston and Massachusetts (2008)

Substance Abuse Crime
Total state spending $5.87 billion $1.68 billion
State spending in the City of Boston $0.51 billion $0.34 billion
City of Boston spending $0.17 billion $0.25 billion
Total spending in the City of Boston $0.68 billion $0.59 billion

For Massachusetts, state spending on prevention is less than 1% of the total expenditures on substance abuse. 22% of the entire state budget is spent on crime and substance abuse.

Download the full report here.

*Clive R Belfield Associate Professor, Economics, Queens College, City University of New York, Co-Director, Center for Benefit-Cost Analysis Studies in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. Report funded by

A new way to fund prevention programs are called Social Impact Bonds or Pay-for-Success Contracts. The way social impact bonds are usually structured is that a government entity enters into a contract with an intermediary organization that raises capital from investors such as banks and foundations and then hires/manages a non-profit organization to provide services that meet a certain pre-determined evaluative data. Massachusetts has issued two of these contracts, but only one so far has been implemented.

The services to be provided by the non-profit address social issues that cause great expenditures by the government. The object is to have private financing invest in programs that work to reduce the costs to the government.

We believe that effective social-emotional learning implemented in all our schools will significantly reduce the 22% this Commonwealth spends on crime and substance abuse and urge the Commonwealth to seek such social impact bonds for this transformative educational initiative.

To read more about Massachusetts Pay-for-Success initial announcement here on a Massachusetts government site announcing the successful bidders.

Spring, 2011 (American Educator)”The Economics of Inequality – the Vaule of Early Childhood Education”See this very interesting article about the economics of early investment in children by working against inequality.August 13, 2011

Redirecting the School-to-Prison Pipeline

“We have produced a larger and more costly prison system than any country in the world, says Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, populated primarily by high-school dropouts on whom we would not spend $10,000 a year when they were in school, but we will spend more than $40,000 a year when they are in prison” a prison system that is now directly devouring the money we should be spending on education.

September 24, 2011

The Prevention Action website recently posted a British article that says, in pertinent part,

“Social and emotional learning programs could return Ј83 in long-term savings for every 1 spent, a recent report finds. The financial return on investment for social and emotional learning (SEL) programs was the highest of any of the mental health strategies evaluated by a team of academics for the UK Department of Health.”