The Chronicle of Higher Education notes a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that shows just how valuable public investment in higher education is. OECD analyzed data from its 30 member nations to come to some rather telling conclusions, like this one:

On average across the OECD, the net public return on the cost of providing a university education for a male student is in excess of $50,000. “In virtually every country, the public benefits of higher education outweigh the costs,” Mr. Schleicher said. “The traditional wisdom was that higher education benefits individuals most, but this was the first time we looked at public costs and public benefits in conjunction.”

The U.S., as is so often the case in matters related to education, is losing ground, particularly in the vital area of college completion rates:

The American rate of 36.5 percent is below the OECD average of 39 percent, and the United States has rapidly lost ground against other countries. In 1995, the United States ranked first in completion rates; today it occupies the 14th spot.

That is quite a precipitous decline.

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Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.