A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity
For America's communities, the returns to investment from higher education have never been greater. While it's intuitive that an educated population, good jobs, and prosperity go hand-in-hand, this study proves the strong relationship between education and a region's economic performance. Institute economists created a unique data set linking educational attainment and occupational trends over time and by region. The report and the accompanying data site not only provide a blueprint for policy makers and leaders to boost education: they can help career seekers figure out where they can get the most bang from their educational buck.
Key findings of the study include:
- Education increases regional prosperity. Adding one year to the average years of schooling among the employed in a metropolitan area is associated with an increase of real GDP per capita of more than ten percent, and an increase in real wages per worker of more than eight percent.
- Better educated = bigger benefits. The better educated the worker, the greater the benefit of additional schooling, to both the worker and the region. Add one year of college to a region's workforce, for instance, and GDP per capita jumps 17.4 percent.
- Clusters count. In metros with clusters of high-skilled occupations, the share of workers holding at least a master's degree is much higher than in metros without significant clusters, perhaps because of the intense competition for employment.