Bethesda and Palo Alto: Graduate Degrees & Money

Bethesda and Palo Alto: Graduate Degrees & Money

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.

Glasgow students on graduation day, courtesy of gumdropgas on Flickr

Glasgow students on graduation day, courtesy of gumdropgas on Flickr

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
         
    United States 10.1%  
         
1 31 Bethesda 52.0% Washington DC
2 18 Los Altos 51.6% Silicon Valley
3 6 McLean 48.9% Washington DC
4 5 Potomac 48.0% Washington DC
5 47 Palo Alto 47.9% Silicon Valley
6 17 Wellesley 44.8% Boston
7 27 Lower Merion Township 43.3% Philadelphia
8 16 Saratoga 42.7% Silicon Valley
9 46 Winchester 42.1% Boston
10 26 Wilmette 42.0% Chicago
11 12 Mamaroneck Town 42.0% Westchester County
12 9 Mountain Brook 40.1% Birmingham
13 49 Needham 39.5% Boston
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
18 30 Bloomfield Township 37.2% Detroit
19 23 Mercer Island 36.5% Seattle
20 1 Darien 34.6% Fairfield County
21 3 Westport 34.2% Fairfield County
22 15 University Park 33.6% Dallas
23 32 Ridgefield 33.5% Fairfield County
24 2 Lake Forest 33.5% Chicago
25 29 Bernards Township 33.0% Somerset County
26 22 Highland Park 32.7% Chicago
27 21 Ridgewood 32.6% Bergen County
28 8 Summit 32.6% Union County
29 10 La Canada Flintridge 32.3% Los Angeles
30 42 Northbrook 31.1% Chicago
31 33 Livingston Township 31.0% Essex County
32 19 Manhattan Beach 30.4% Los Angeles
33 40 Westfield 30.3% Union County
34 45 Leawood 30.0% Kansas City
35 11 Garden City 29.9% Long Island
36 38 Lafayette 29.6% San Francisco
37 24 Eastchester Town 29.0% Westchester County
38 37 Dix Hills 28.8% Long Island
39 4 Greenwich 28.5% Fairfield County
40 48 Morris Township 28.4% Morris County
41 25 Newport Beach 27.4% Orange County
42 43 Laguna Beach 26.6% Orange County
43 35 Brentwood 26.3% Nashville
44 50 Los Gatos 25.4% Silicon Valley
45 13 Colleyville 25.2% Fort Worth
46 36 Danville 25.1% San Francisco
47 39 North Tustin 24.2% Orange County
48 14 Harrison 23.2% Westchester County
49 7 Southlake 22.8% Fort Worth
50 28 Granite Bay 18.9% Sacramento

Some observations:

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

Rank Place Doctorates Locater
       
  United States 1.1%  
       
1 Palo Alto 12.2% Silicon Valley
2 Bethesda 10.8% Washington DC
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
7 Potomac 8.0% Washington DC
8 Lower Merion Township 7.9% Philadelphia
9 McLean 7.7% Washington DC
10 North Potomac 7.7% Washington DC
11 Saratoga 7.2% Silicon Valley
12 Wellesley 6.9% Boston
13 Winchester 5.6% Boston
14 Wilmette 5.4% Chicago
15 Bernards Township 5.0% Somerset County
16 Mercer Island 4.9% Seattle
17 Mamaroneck Town 4.8% Westchester County
18 La Canada Flintridge 4.7% Los Angeles
19 Needham 4.4% Boston
20 Leawood 4.2% Kansas City
21 Lafayette 3.9% San Francisco
22 Ridgefield 3.8% Fairfield County
23 Summit 3.8% Union County
24 Westfield 3.8% Union County
25 Brentwood 3.6% Nashville
26 Ridgewood 3.6% Bergen County
27 Danville 3.5% San Francisco
28 Manhattan Beach 3.5% Los Angeles
29 Newport Beach 3.1% Orange County
30 Westport 3.1% Fairfield County
31 Bloomfield Township 3.0% Detroit
32 Dix Hills 2.9% Long Island
33 Los Gatos 2.8% Silicon Valley
34 Laguna Beach 2.8% Orange County
35 Southlake 2.4% Fort Worth
36 Highland Park 2.3% Chicago
37 Granite Bay 2.2% Sacramento
38 North Tustin 2.2% Orange County
39 Livingston Township 2.2% Essex County
40 Colleyville 2.1% Fort Worth
41 Garden City 2.0% Long Island
42 Morris Township 2.0% Morris County
43 Greenwich 2.0% Fairfield County
44 Northbrook 2.0% Chicago
45 Eastchester Town 1.9% Westchester County
46 Lake Forest 1.7% Chicago
47 Harrison 1.5% Westchester County
48 Darien N/A Fairfield County
49 Mountain Brook N/A Birmingham
50 University Park N/A Dallas

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
     
Boston    
     
Lexington 11.7% 49.5%
Brookline 11.0% 47.1%
Newton 9.4% 43.3%
Cambridge 11.0% 42.7%
Acton 7.8% 40.1%
Belmont 8.9% 38.5%
Arlington 7.6% 33.7%
Andover 4.6% 31.8%
Westford 3.7% 31.6%
Marblehead 3.2% 28.7%
     
Washington DC    
     
Arlington 4.4% 36.4%
Oakton 5.2% 35.9%
Chantilly 2.0% 35.6%
North Bethesda 5.9% 34.9%
Reston 4.7% 31.7%
Colesville 5.3% 31.2%
Columbia 4.6% 29.5%
Alexandria 2.8% 29.2%
Fairfax (City) 3.6% 22.3%
Centreville 1.5% 18.3%
     
Silicon Valley    
     
Mountain View 6.0% 27.8%
Foster City 4.8% 27.3%
Belmont 3.5% 26.0%
Sunnyvale 3.5% 25.6%
San Carlos 4.5% 24.3%
Santa Clara 2.6% 20.4%
San Mateo 2.1% 16.7%
Redwood City 3.7% 16.3%
Milpitas 1.8% 14.1%
San Jose 1.7% 13.2%

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
         
West Lafayette IN 48.5% 20.5% Purdue
Amherst MA 43.0% 14.7% UMass-Amherst
Blacksburg VA 40.3% 12.9% Virginia Tech
Chapel Hill NC 44.5% 12.2% North Carolina
Athens OH 34.8% 12.1% Ohio University
Ann Arbor MI 42.1% 11.8% Michigan
Okemos MI 37.9% 11.4% Michigan State
Berkeley CA 36.9% 9.8% UC-Berkeley
Plainsboro NJ 36.9% 9.8% Princeton
Urbana IL 34.0% 9.4% Illinois
East Lansing MI 36.8% 9.4% Michigan State
Davis CA 39.1% 9.1% UC-Davis
Ithaca NY 34.0% 8.6% Cornell
Radnor PA 34.6% 8.4% Villanova-Haverford
Boulder CO 34.4% 7.8% Colorado
Bloomington IN 30.1% 7.6% Indiana
Evanston IL 36.1% 6.4% Northwestern

Posted in Uncategorized on Aug 4th, 2010, 8:56 am by Stephen Higley   

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