Learn More

Educational Attainment

Variable Definitions:

Bachelor’s Degree or Higher: The percentage of the population ages 25 and older who have a Bachelor’s (4-year) degree or higher level of education

Associate’s Degree or Higher: The percentage of the population ages 25 and older who have an Associate’s (2- year) Degree

Less than High School: The percentage of the population ages 25 and older without a high school diploma

American Community Survey, 5-year estimates, Tables B14004 & B15002

Years Available:*
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

*Note: Each year of available data shown above is a 5-year estimate, or an average of data collected over a five year period. 5-year estimates are used to increase the reliability of the data at small geographies like neighborhoods and census tracts. The years shown on the NDSC map represent the final year of the five year average (e.g. “2010” represents 2006-2010 data, “2011” represents 2007-2011 data, and so on). For the most impactful comparison of data over time, the ACS recommends comparing non-overlapping years (e.g. 2010-14 with 2015-19).

Why are these variables important to measure?

Associate’s Degree or Higher

According to the Census Bureau, the category of Associate’s degree includes “people whose highest degree is an associate’s degree, which generally requires 2 years of college level work and is either in an occupational program that prepares them for a specific occupation, or an academic program primarily in the arts and sciences. The course work may or may not be transferable to a bachelor’s degree.” 

Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
A Bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree awarded by colleges and universities to students who have completed coursework typically lasting four years. Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree appears to be of growing social and economic importance, particularly for younger generations. Across age groups, obtaining a bachelor’s degrees often leads to higher incomes and lower rates of unemployment. 

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
Not obtaining a high school diploma can often lead to lower lifetime earnings, higher chances of living in poverty, and may even contribute to lower health outcomes.

Measuring the share of people without a high school diploma in a neighborhood can help determine the scope of social services like adult education and job training programs that might be needed. Additionally, there may be an increased need for additional support for current high school students and their families in neighborhoods with lower educational attainment rates. 

American Community Survey. 2017 Subject Definitions. Link. 

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

Related Data Stories

Policy Areas

Close Menu