Learn More: Educational Attainment


Variable Definitions:
College Graduation Rate: The percentage of the population ages 25 and older who have a bachelor's degree or higher level of education
Less than High School: The percentage of the population ages 25 and older without a high school diploma
Young Adults Enrolled in School: The percentage of the population between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in public or private school (individuals enrolled in vocational and trade schools are not included in this percentage)
American Community Survey, 5-year estimates, Tables B14004, B15002
Years Available:
2006-10, 2007-11, 2008-12, 2009-13, 2010-14, 2011-15, 2012-16, 2013-17
Geographic Unit
Census Tract (aggregated to cities and neighborhoods)

Why are these Variables Important to Measure?

College Graduation Rate
Obtaining a bachelor's degree appears to be of growing social and economic importance, particularly for younger generations. Across age groups, individuals with bachelor's degrees tend to have higher incomes, lower rates of unemployment, and are less likely to live in poverty than their counterparts without degrees.
Measuring education level is also an important tool for neighborhood development as communities with a large number of college graduates may have a different demand certain goods and services as well as different overall qualifications as a workforce.
Less than High School
Dropping out of high school substantially reduces an individual's lifetime earnings, increases their chances of living in poverty, and may even contribute to lower health outcomes. Communities with more educated populations tend to have higher rates of economic productivity and growth.
Measuring the percentage of the population without a high school diploma in a neighborhood is a useful tool to determine the scope of social services like adult education and job training programs that are needed. Additionally, there may be an increased need for preventative drop out measures for current high school students in neighborhoods with high dropout rates.
Young Adults Enrolled in School
The activities of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 represent enormous potential for our nation's economy, and getting an education during these years is a crucial step towards job opportunities and future economic prosperity. Since the Great Recession, the number of people in this age group who are unemployed and not in school has increased, posing both current and future problems for those individuals and their communities.
Attending some college without graduating immediately improves an individual's chances against unemployment and poverty, and leads to greater future earnings. Graduating with a bachelor's degree further improves a young person's economic and social prospects. High rates of employment and education in young adults also provides benefits to their communities. Young adults who attend school are less likely to become teenage parents and are much more likely to contribute to economic activity and growth of their neighborhoods in the future.

Featured Data Stories

Belfield, Clive R., Henry M. Levin, and Rachel Rosen. "The economic value of opportunity youth." Civic Enterprises. Link
"Left behind in America: The nation's dropout crisis." Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University & The Alternative Schools Network, 5 May 2009. Link
Rodin, Judith and Eme Essien Lore. "Youth opportunity: Rethinking the next generation." Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, vol. 8, no. 1/2, 2013, pp. 11-17. Link
"The rising cost of not going to college." Pew Research Center: Social & Demographic Trends, 11 February 2014. Link
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