After reading Daniel de Vise’s article in the Washington Post about the high rates of high-school completion in the counties surrounding the District of Columbia, I thought it would be much more telling to find which communities had the highest concentration of graduate degrees. The 2006-8 American Community Survey reports on doctorates, professional degrees, and masters degrees found in communities with over 20,000 people. There is a relatively high statistical margin of error in the numbers, yet the usual suspects top the list. The collar counties of Washington DC and Silicon Valley are heavily represented near the top of the list. I researched the fifty highest income places in the United States by mean household income. The assumption was made that there is a direct correlation between education and income. For comparison, I also looked up the statistics for ten suburbs in Boston, Washington DC and Silicon Valley that were affluent by any American standard but are not in the top fifty in terms of mean household income.
TABLE ONE: Graduate Degrees (of the population 0ver the age of 25) by Percentage (American Community Survey 2006-8)
|Grad Degree Rank||Mean HH Inc Rank||Place||Graduate Degrees||Locater|
|2||18||Los Altos||51.6%||Silicon Valley|
|5||47||Palo Alto||47.9%||Silicon Valley|
|7||27||Lower Merion Township||43.3%||Philadelphia|
|11||12||Mamaroneck Town||42.0%||Westchester County|
|14||20||Montgomery Township||39.3%||Somerset County|
|15||34||West Windsor Township||39.3%||Princeton|
|16||44||Menlo Park||38.6%||Silicon Valley|
|17||41||North Potomac||38.2%||Washington DC|
|25||29||Bernards Township||33.0%||Somerset County|
|29||10||La Canada Flintridge||32.3%||Los Angeles|
|31||33||Livingston Township||31.0%||Essex County|
|32||19||Manhattan Beach||30.4%||Los Angeles|
|35||11||Garden City||29.9%||Long Island|
|37||24||Eastchester Town||29.0%||Westchester County|
|38||37||Dix Hills||28.8%||Long Island|
|40||48||Morris Township||28.4%||Morris County|
|41||25||Newport Beach||27.4%||Orange County|
|42||43||Laguna Beach||26.6%||Orange County|
|44||50||Los Gatos||25.4%||Silicon Valley|
|47||39||North Tustin||24.2%||Orange County|
1. Some places abruptly change rank in the listings. Although Bethesda ranks 31st in mean household income, it was first in the percentage of its residents in graduate degrees (and second in doctorates). It came as no surprise that Stanford University’s next door neighbor, Palo Alto, jumped from 47th wealthiest to first in doctoral degrees. Los Altos, a close neighbor of Palo Alto in the heart of Silicon Valley was 18th in mean household income, but placed second for graduate degrees of all types.
2. The Connecticut suburbs of New York City rank near the top in wealth, but drop precipitously in the graduate education list. Greenwich was 4th in income and drops to 37th in grad degrees. Westport drops from 3rd in wealth to 19th in degrees. Surprisingly, Darien, number one in household income drops to 20th for grad degrees.
3. As you might expect, places near prominent universities are well represented on the list: Winchester, Massachusetts (9th in grad degrees) is probably on the list because of the multitude of universities in the Boston area. Similarly we find West Windsor Township (Princeton), Lower Merion Township (Penn, Villanova, & Haverford as examples), and Garden City, New York (Adelphi, Hofstra) ranked near the top of the list in graduate degrees.
4. The two places that are near the top of both lists face each other across the Potomac River: McLean, Virginia and Potomac, Maryland. It is important to remember that the Census estimates are only for those places that have over 20,000 inhabitants. Clearly, the adjacent communities (such as Great Falls and Wolf Trap in Virginia, as well as the myriad of Chevy Chases and Travilah in Maryland) would be equal or higher than the noted places, but they are not enumerated in the American Community Survey. The statistics will be available when the economic numbers for smaller places are published when the American Community Survey are released. The sampling for smaller places will cover the years 2005-2010 and will be released in the years following the current decennial Census now under way.
MAP ONE: The Largest Concentration of High Income and Grad Degrees: Bethesda, Potomac, North Potomac, and McLean.
View Brains and Income in DC in a larger map
Yet another way of looking at the data is too rank the 50 highest income places by the number of residents that have a doctorate. Note that three of the highest income places are not on the list. The reason for their exclusion from the data has to do with the sampling data. They did not have enough MDs and PhDs for Census enumerators to be statistically included. This is a bit of a mystery to me as the three communities are Darien, Connecticut, (#1 in mean household income; Mountain Brook, Alabama (9th); and University Park, Texas, (15th).
TABLE TWO: Doctoral Degrees (of the population over the age of 25) by percentage. American Community Survey 2006-8
|1||Palo Alto||12.2%||Silicon Valley|
|3||Menlo Park||9.9%||Silicon Valley|
|4||West Windsor Township||8.7%||Princeton|
|5||Montgomery Township||8.3%||Somerset County|
|6||Los Altos||8.1%||Silicon Valley|
|8||Lower Merion Township||7.9%||Philadelphia|
|10||North Potomac||7.7%||Washington DC|
|15||Bernards Township||5.0%||Somerset County|
|17||Mamaroneck Town||4.8%||Westchester County|
|18||La Canada Flintridge||4.7%||Los Angeles|
|28||Manhattan Beach||3.5%||Los Angeles|
|29||Newport Beach||3.1%||Orange County|
|32||Dix Hills||2.9%||Long Island|
|33||Los Gatos||2.8%||Silicon Valley|
|34||Laguna Beach||2.8%||Orange County|
|38||North Tustin||2.2%||Orange County|
|39||Livingston Township||2.2%||Essex County|
|41||Garden City||2.0%||Long Island|
|42||Morris Township||2.0%||Morris County|
|45||Eastchester Town||1.9%||Westchester County|
Table Three looks at 10 suburbs in Boston, Washington DC,and Silicon Valley to see how they compare to the highest income places in the country. The results show that the twenty suburbs compare favorably. Mountain View, with its heavy concentration of high tech firms ranks very high in doctorates. Arlington, Virginia also ranks highly and this is remarkable considering this county’s large population (217,483, Census Est. 2009). Boston has many suburbs that just missed the top 50 in income (Lexington, Newton, & Brookline) and the statistics show that they are among the leaders in graduate and doctorate education.
TABLE THREE: Ten Higher Income Places in Boston, Washington DC, and Silicon Valley with High Percentages of Residents (over 25 years old) with Grad Degrees
|PLACE||DOCTORATES||ALL GRADUATE DEGREES|
Places with the most Ph.D.s
It will come as no surprise that the cities with the highest concentration of doctorates are found in towns dominated by major universities. West Lafayette, Indiana is easily number one in this category. Evidently, the professoriate has overwhelmingly chosen to live in the many pleasant neighborhoods surrounding the campus.
TABLE FOUR: Academic Strongholds of Higher Degrees
|Place||All Grad Degrees||Doctorates||Associated University|
|Chapel Hill||NC||44.5%||12.2%||North Carolina|
|East Lansing||MI||36.8%||9.4%||Michigan State|