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The state of education…or, rather, the education of states


GeoFRED can help us track aspects of education, which can vary significantly among U.S. states. This map shows the fraction of those 25 years or older who have completed a bachelor’s degree. The data are from 2012 (the last year the Census Bureau published such statistics) for the 50 states plus Washington, DC. Darker shades represent a higher fraction of those with a bachelor’s degree.

Clearly, there are large disparities in educational attainment: Our nation’s capital takes the cake, with 53% of residents 25 years or older having completed a bachelor’s degree. As for the states, Massachusetts tops the list with 39.3%, while Mississippi is at the other end of the spectrum with 20.7%.

States with a larger share of college graduates seem to cluster on the northeast coast (e.g., New York has 33.4%) and the west coast (e.g., Washington has 31.7%). States with lower educational attainment form a crescent shape from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Colorado is an exception, with 37.5% despite its distance from the coasts; it’s second only to Massachusetts.

How this map was created: From GeoFRED, after clicking on “Build New Map,” go to the “Tools” menu. Select “State” under “Region Type” and search for “People 25 Years and Over Who Have Completed a Bachelor’s Degree.” Under “Edit Legend,” choose four color classes; under “Choose Colors,” use whichever color scheme you prefer.

Suggested by Ana Maria Santacreu and Heting Zhu.

View on FRED, series used in this post: GCT1502AK, GCT1502US, GCT1502WY


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