- Early childhood education programs that produce returns of about 10-15% annualized in the form of cost savings for the government when one accounts for the lifetime benefits for the students and society. That is because they lead to better school performance, higher earnings, and lower odds of committing crimes, all of which have direct economic benefits for society.
- Relatively inexpensive interventions that lead to lower high school dropout rates in grades 8 and 9 can pay for themselves many times over. Moving these young students into practical higher education or trade jobs when done well is highly cost-effective. For example, the lifetime earnings of a college graduate are over $1 million higher than those of a high school dropout.
- School finance reforms show that a 10% increase in per-pupil spending can have a meaningful impact on educational outcomes for low-income students, producing a higher ROI than spending on higher-income students. Overall, researchers have found that additional school spending has an IRR of roughly 10%.
- Microfinance. For every dollar donated/invested in this, approximately $12 is lent, paid back, and lent again over the next 10 years to disadvantaged people to start and build their businesses.
- Numerous infrastructure spending plans that can facilitate trade and improve productivity/efficiency. From 33 studies that looked at the ROI of infrastructure investment, it is estimated that smart infrastructure programs have a 10-20% rate of return in terms of increased economic activity, making it a good trade for the government to borrow money and invest in infrastructure.
- Public health /preventative healthcare interventions also can have very positive ROIs. From 52 studies that looked at the ROI of preventative health programs (covering a variety of program types, including vaccines, home blood pressure monitoring, smoking cessation, etc.), on average the programs created $14 of benefit for every $1 of cost.
See Ray Dalio’s paradigm shifting work and suggestions on how to improve opportunities for all Americans.