Education Levels of the Population:
Educational Attainment by Degree-Level and Age-Group (Decennial Census)

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Educational Attainment Beyond High School

Why are these measures important?

These are measures of educational attainment by degree-level by age-group. Raising educational attainment of the adult population is one of the most important objectives for any state. This is in part because of the positive relationships between an educated citizenry, successful business and industry, and high paying jobs. In addition, much evidence has shown that higher levels of education lead to fewer health problems and greater levels of civic engagement.

What are the policy issues associated with them?

There are several policy issues to consider regarding educational attainment. States can do a good job educating and graduating students but then export large numbers of their graduates to states that have more vibrant economies and higher paying jobs. Conversely, states can perform rather poorly in educating and graduating students, while importing large numbers of educated citizens from other states.

It also is useful to analyze the educational attainment data by age-group. At the very least, isolate those residents who are working age (18 to 64). Some states have substantial numbers of residents 65 and older with college degrees - and vice versa - who are not likely to participate in the labor force.

When looking at the change in educational attainment by age-group from 1990 to 2000, interesting patterns emerge. Some states have experienced large increases in educational attainment among younger residents and small increases among older residents. Other states have experienced the opposite. Some states have improved substantially in most age-groups while other states have shown little improvement in most age-groups.

What other factors should you consider?

It is important to look at other factors that influence educational attainment: e.g. college participation and completion, and employment opportunities for college graduates. Some states have the ability to link college completion files with unemployment, driver's license and state income tax files to determine at what rates recent college graduates are leaving the state after graduation - and what types of graduates they are losing (e.g. engineers, computer and information science graduates, etc.).

Data Sources/Related Links