First Advisor

Richard B. Halley

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Economics (MSECO)






Nurses -- Economic aspects -- United States, Nursing--Economic aspects -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (150 p.)


The focus of this research is the relationship between the supply of registered nurses and the rate of return on the educational investment to become a registered nurse. Is this rate of return a determining factor in the supply, past, present, and future? Since 98. 8 percent of all registered nurses are women, an integral part of this study is a survey of the data on women in the labor force.

The empirical data, statistical, was obtained from government sources and non-government associations, The American Nurses Association, The American Hospital Association, and the educational institutions. The data indicates the following: the yearly average supply of active registered nurses has increased by 3.15 percent from 1966 through 1970; the demand for registered nurses has decreased from 41.1 percent of nursing personnel in 1966 to 36.8 percent in 1970; the average weekly wage of general duty nurses has increased $100.50 in 1966 to $141.00 in 1969; the number of graduates from registered nurse schools has been increasing in recent years. Of the three programs, the Associate Degree shows the largest increase in number of students and it is the one in which the present value of benefits from the investment, $10,414.00, exceeded the present value of the investment costs (education), $6,923.00, which yielded a private rate of return of five percent.

In summary, the rate of return on the three registered nurse educational programs, Associate Degree, Diploma Degree, and Baccalaureate Degree, based on employment as a general duty nurse and calculated by both the present value of cost and benefit method and internal rate of return method indicated that only the Associate Degree program produced a positive rate of return. In addition, this is the program that has had the large increase in students and graduates in recent years. If this trend continues, the future supply of registered nurses will be adequate and may overshoot the demand. However, many questions remain unanswered which call for more research, particularly relating to the labor force participation of women.


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