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Interactive Map - Adults With College Degrees in the U.S.
January 30, 2011 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Adults With College Degrees in the United States, by County. Sort by available years (1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 200, 2005-2009), zoom in on counties, and sort the data by the available fields. Uses the U.S. Census Bureau as the primary data source.
posted by cashman (61 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Clearly this is beautifully designed tool, and fascinating in its nature. I just wish the contrast of color was more delineated for these old eyes. This tool is so going into my research happy place. Thanks for the great find.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 7:34 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


16.49% for my county. I knew it would be bad as it is a poor county overall.
posted by SuzySmith at 7:37 PM on January 30, 2011


10.66% here. Rural, agricultural county. Not surprising.
posted by jscalzi at 7:39 PM on January 30, 2011


My county is 34%, something of a surprise to me. The suburban county next door is 50%, but the other suburban county to the east is 23% and the rural counties to the west are 15-16%.
posted by blucevalo at 7:42 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Run "Autoplay" for instant optimism boost.
posted by stbalbach at 7:50 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amazing how education effects political behavior. I took a snapshot of their by county degree map and put it next to a by county red/blue voting map of the 2008 election.

The degree map is from this post's link. The voting map is from Mark Newman at the University of Michigan.
posted by Babblesort at 8:02 PM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is kiinda like one third of a previous post, but it's easier to read.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:07 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Asians are hella educated! And I love that there seems to be a single black person on the north slope of Alaska and he/she has a degree.
posted by cman at 8:08 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Love it. Wish I could copy and paste some of the data a little more easily.

Genesee county, MI here, with a rather unsurprising 18.81% rate and a median income of about $44,000.

Previously lived in King county, WA, which has an equally unsurprising 44.82% rate. Before that, Marion county, OR and its mildly surprising 20.58% rate. State capital is in Marion county, but I guess a lot of it is awfully rural.
posted by asciident at 8:12 PM on January 30, 2011


69.47% here in Falls Church, VA. I'm not helping though.
posted by phrontist at 8:13 PM on January 30, 2011


Does my Associate of Arts two year degree count? only 6 units short of a Bachelor's Degree in 3 different subjects. Kinda almost there, but short.
posted by tustinrick at 8:18 PM on January 30, 2011


Thank God we know where the Right Sort of People live!

...wait, these are liberal arts and social science degrees, right?
posted by TSOL at 8:18 PM on January 30, 2011


I'm surprised DC is so high at 50 %. One of the city's problems is that the educated upper and upper middle class workers typically commute from the MD and VA 'burbs, leaving the local tax base dependent on the largely working-class residents.
posted by bardic at 8:22 PM on January 30, 2011


I love that there seems to be a single black person on the north slope of Alaska and he/she has a degree.

Yeah, I found a few counties like this too. 100% of black folks in this county have a bachelor's! Awesome!
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:22 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I also like setting the slider back to 1940 and seeing where the collegians were then - DC area was still way up there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:24 PM on January 30, 2011


What did Oktibbeha, Miss do so well?
Despite being among the poorer counties, they buck the trend in degrees across the nation, they went from 7% in 1940 to 39.7% in 2005-9.
What are the determinants of their success? I can't access the article for the commentary alas.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:31 PM on January 30, 2011


bardic, I think it's offset somewhat by the 20-somethings who live in the city and make very little money working for government or nonprofits, but have tons of education. It doesn't help the tax base much, but it definitely helps make this map darker.
posted by decathecting at 8:33 PM on January 30, 2011


Counties I've lived in, in chronological order:

28.27% - Kings, NY (Brooklyn)
44.39% - Dane, WI (Madison)
29.25% - Eau Claire, WI
48.70% - Tompkins, NY (Ithaca)
43.09% - Travis, TX (Austin)
36.59% - Albany, NY
57.66% - New York, NY
posted by John Cohen at 8:43 PM on January 30, 2011


Mississippi State University is located in Oktibbeha County.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:46 PM on January 30, 2011


Answer me this. San Francisco County/City has over 50%. Why is everyone here such a dumbass then?
posted by quadog at 8:50 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, had a bad day.
posted by quadog at 8:50 PM on January 30, 2011


69.47% here in Falls Church, VA. I'm not helping though.

Does it say anywhere what the very highest and lowest ranked counties are? I can't find anything higher that Falls Church, but I may have missed something, and I can't be bothered to check all of the low-looking ones.
posted by naoko at 8:56 PM on January 30, 2011


Anyone know where this data can be found? I've looked around the US Census website, but can't seem to locate it.
posted by -jf- at 9:02 PM on January 30, 2011


Looking at Madison County, Alabama (the next county over from Morgan County, where I grew up), you can see the direct effect of the rocket program's launch at Redstone Arsenal in 1950. Thank you, Wernher von Braun? (I never quite know how to feel about that guy.)
posted by ocherdraco at 9:06 PM on January 30, 2011


I'm going to tentatively name Owsley, KY the lowest at 4.57%.
posted by naoko at 9:25 PM on January 30, 2011


It's 40.79% in my neck of the woods (Leon County, Florida). But then, it is a university town. Weird thing, though, the main map graphic doesn't close when I navigate away from the page. It just kind of floats mid-screen until I close and reopen the browser. The image even persists across multiple tabs. Anybody else seeing this issue? I'm browsing on Chrome...
posted by saulgoodman at 9:28 PM on January 30, 2011


What did Oktibbeha, Miss do so well?

I bet that's where Starkville, home of MS State is... yep!

Amazing how education effects political behavior. I took a snapshot of their by county degree map and put it next to a by county red/blue voting map of the 2008 election.

Actually, if you just look at the raw relationship among individuals, higher education attainment is associated with voting for McCain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:31 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anyone know where this data can be found? I've looked around the US Census website, but can't seem to locate it.

You can pull it from the American Factfinder. You'll have to drill down in its interface. The thing you're looking for will be something like "Educational attainment for population over 25."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:35 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you're at a college or university, you might have access to Social Explorer, with which you can produce similar maps on pretty much any Census-covered topic.
posted by nasreddin at 9:46 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks!
posted by -jf- at 9:46 PM on January 30, 2011


(That is, thanks to ROU_Xenophobe, for answering my question.)
posted by -jf- at 9:46 PM on January 30, 2011


Oh, and I guess thanks also to nasreddin.
posted by -jf- at 9:57 PM on January 30, 2011


Can you adjust for "Worth of Degree"?
posted by bicyclefish at 9:57 PM on January 30, 2011


Counties I've lived in, in chronological order:

Are those the numbers from the time period you lived there, too?
posted by me3dia at 10:08 PM on January 30, 2011


Can you adjust for "Worth of Degree"?

I'm trying, but it's been quite a handicap.
posted by brennen at 10:36 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to tentatively name Owsley, KY the lowest at 4.57%.

That's a good bet. It's weird, though. I'm looking at 2000 data that ROU_Xenophobe pointed me to, and Owsley was 106th from the bottom, with 7.71%.

Here are the lowest 10 from 2000 (if my calculations are right):

4.88: Alaska, Aleutians East Borough
4.92: Kentucky, Edmonson
5.38: South Dakota, Buffalo
5.41: Tennessee, Lake
5.43: Georgia, Twiggs
5.51: Texas, Newton
5.60: Tennessee, Macon
5.64: West Virginia, McDowell
5.75: Tennessee, Union
5.84: Georgia, Long
posted by -jf- at 11:01 PM on January 30, 2011


The rate for my old home (Seattle, King County, WA) is more than twice that of my new home (Las Vegas, Clark County, NV). No wonder it feels like this place is overrun with anti-intellectualism.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:18 AM on January 31, 2011


I find it funny that the Chronicle for Higher Education's paywall cuts out the citation data source:

"About These Data
While the primary source for these data is the U.S. Census Bureau, this interactive map makes use of historical Census data provided by the"

posted by stratastar at 2:00 AM on January 31, 2011


What, no Native Americans?
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:23 AM on January 31, 2011


If you set the map to compare counties to national average, the contrast is much better.

And what's going on in Colorado?
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:27 AM on January 31, 2011


Fascinating and hard to believe how light the country gets when you scroll back to 1940, where only 4.6% nationally got a degree. Looks like the VA area all around Washington DC where I live is pretty packed with grads.
posted by crunchland at 5:04 AM on January 31, 2011


I am surprised at how low so many counties are.
I would like to see the same for post-grad degrees.
posted by Flood at 5:06 AM on January 31, 2011


Hometown -- 11.8; current town around 23%

One point I found interesting -- we're often seeing statements about how everyone needs a college degree today and people are flooding into higher ed. That big jump looks like it really happens between the 1970s and 1980s overall, with 8% difference there, which is about the same as the difference between 1980s and today.
posted by bizzyb at 5:08 AM on January 31, 2011


I love that there seems to be a single black person on the north slope of Alaska and he/she has a degree.

Yeah, I found a few counties like this too. 100% of black folks in this county have a bachelor's! Awesome!


I assure you these are more than one or two people. To protect the privacy of individuals data in cells that include only a small number of individuals is suppressed (i.e. not released for publication) specifically because it could identify individuals. So if you leave in Northern Alaska and there's on black person, this would violate their privacy since you would now know their educational level. And of course if small cells were permitted and you had access to the data you could find out all sorts of other things about them (what's the average income for black people with BAs in North Alaska? etc.).

Here's information about how data is treated to avoid identifying individuals. They key portion for these purposes is this:

Suppression is a method of disclosure avoidance used to protect individuals' confidentiality by not showing (suppressing) the cell values in tables of aggregate data for cases where only a few individuals or businesses are represented or dominate the cell value. The cells that are not shown are called primary suppressions. To make sure the primary suppressions cannot be closely estimated by subtracting the other cells in the table from the marginal totals, additional cells are also suppressed. These additional suppressed cells are called complementary or secondary suppressions. Values for cells that are not suppressed remain unchanged. Before the Census Bureau releases data, computer programs check published tables for both primary and complementary disclosures.

If there were no black people in the county or too few black people in the county to release data, then the map should be coded "no data available" or some such. If it says 100% that should mean there's some non-tiny number of black adults in the county and they all have BAs.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:21 AM on January 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


The map makes those land grant schools easy to spot - at least those that aren't in a state capitol.
posted by klarck at 5:24 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


so this is based on where they are now not where they came from? Is there a brain drain map anywhere? Would be neat to compare. Wonder if it's possible to get the data for such a map.
Not that this isn't cool but it probably shows more about where people with degrees end up finding jobs. I don't live where I got my degree (which was also where I grew up).
posted by sio42 at 5:26 AM on January 31, 2011


Wow. Best educated parish (county) in all of Louisiana. Kind of like being the smartest rat in the sewer.
posted by The Giant Squid at 5:57 AM on January 31, 2011


I'm not surprised that my county, which includes Cape Canaveral and several engineering firms, skews slightly higher for men than women with college degrees.

I AM surprised that Asians have earned 42.09% of those degrees, though, since they account for only 2.12% of the total population here.
posted by misha at 8:20 AM on January 31, 2011


Or maybe I am reading that wrong, and 42.09% of the Asians have degrees? Hmm.
posted by misha at 8:22 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


My county, Monroe (Rochester, NY and surrounding towns) has had a rising percentage despite the population decreasing since hitting a peak around 2000. I find that a little surprising since I would have expected the dramatic loss of high-tech employment in the area due to cuts at Kodak, Xerox and others to lower the percentage as educated workers headed for sunnier climes.
posted by tommasz at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2011


The correlation between degrees/median income is not at all uniform, either:

Johnson, Iowa: 50.82/ $49,413.
Loudoun, Virginia: 56.47/ $112,021. (Politicians living there who work in D.C., maybe?)
posted by misha at 8:55 AM on January 31, 2011


(Politicians living there who work in D.C., maybe?)

The vast majority of people living in and around DC don't work for the government. Government workers are a small minority, and politicians even rarer. There are a lot of wealthy educated people in the area because there are a lot of companies and organizations HQ'd in DC.
posted by stbalbach at 10:01 AM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Certainly true that there are a lot of co's and org's. There are a lot of embassies and international NGOs too. But mainly there are a lot of defense contractors, lobbying groups, etc - it's an ecosystem driven by government money, for sure. It's a city that people move to to do brainy work.

Another thing about the DC area is that the city proper doesn't have high-rises, and so doesn't have the kind of housing density that some other cities do. So there has been a lot of sprawl compared to some other east coast cities for the same population level.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:08 AM on January 31, 2011


...which means that people who live well into outlying areas of VA, MD, and even WV and DE, may still be commuting to DC or working for a DC group that is based outside the city proper (true of several government agencies and plenty of orgs that run on government money).
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:11 AM on January 31, 2011


Amazing how education effects political behavior. I took a snapshot of their by county degree map and put it next to a by county red/blue voting map of the 2008 election.

A made a scatterplot of this. I put an SVG here.

I also made a slightly interactive version. If you mouse over a dot, you can see the county name. That version is here. It uses JavaScript, and it works fine in Chrome, it's a little slow for me in Firefox, and I wouldn't try to use it in Internet Explorer. Also, if it's too small or too large, use your browser controls to resize.
posted by -jf- at 10:17 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Flash issue I described up-thread doesn't seem to be there for me anymore.

Nifty resource. Thanks!
posted by saulgoodman at 12:57 PM on January 31, 2011


Bleeding heart that I am, I looked at disparities in counties where I've lived between whites and blacks/Hispanics. My "favorite" was Baltimore City. 32% white/ 44% of whites have a bachelor's. 63% black/ 12.5% of blacks have a degree. I thought I had something to say about this, but I don't know that more is necessary.
posted by epj at 2:55 PM on January 31, 2011


Another thing I noticed about my small town is that it actually kept pace with the number of college graduates up through the 1970s, but then it just never changed to the same degree that the average for the country changed. Given that 11% now have a college degree, it's difficult to imagine that in the 1970s it was at least half that.
posted by bizzyb at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2011


-jf- that's really cool!
posted by stratastar at 6:30 PM on January 31, 2011


I was surprised that my home county had 19% with bachelors, then I remembered there's a college there. The surrounding counties dropped to ~8-13%
posted by rubah at 8:12 PM on January 31, 2011


Thanks, stratastar.
posted by -jf- at 8:15 PM on January 31, 2011


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