Education

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Educational attainment is closely linked to income and social mobility (1-2), and educational disparities between groups could contribute to disparities in poverty rates. Additionally, the importance of education has been increasing over the past four decades as real incomes have risen for adults with post-secondary degrees, but not for adults with lower educational attainment (2). If this trend continues, educational disparities will have an increasing impact on future poverty rates. However, residents with higher educational attainment are also more likely to be White, non-Hispanic or have other characteristics that lessen their risk of being in poverty. As a result, some differences in poverty rates shown in this section may not be completely due to educational attainment.  This section measures the highest level of education attained by residents 25 and older.

Important Links

Data 101
Data Glossary
Methodology
About this Study
Executive Summary
Key Findings

Core Concepts

This section examines how disparities in educational attainment could contribute to disparities in poverty rates.
  • Higher educational attainment is associated with lower poverty rates in Forsyth County.
  • Residents in Forsyth County tend to have lower educational attainment than in peer communities.  This could contribute to Forsyth County having a higher rate of poverty than these peer communities.
  • There are large racial disparities in educational attainment rates, which could contribute to racial disparities in poverty rates.  However, racial disparities in poverty rates cannot be explained by educational attainment alone, as they persist even when educational attainment is taken into account.
  • There is no evidence that the relatively high poverty rate among females is due to differing levels of educational attainment.  Females and males have similar educational attainment in Forsyth County, and females are more likely to live in poverty than males, regardless of educational attainment.

Overview of Educational Attainment in Forsyth County

This section explores overall rates of educational attainment and their relationship to poverty.
Figure 1: Educational Attainment in Forsyth County, 2014
Figure 1 lists detailed categories of educational attainment in Forsyth County. Educational attainment measures the highest level of education achieved by residents.
  • In 2014, 13% of residents in Forsyth County age 25 and over have less than a high school education. An estimated 47% have a high school diploma or equivalent or some college as their highest level of education, and 40% have obtained a post-secondary education, including associate’s degrees.
  • Some of the categories outlined in Figure 1 are too small to create reliable estimates in many of the analyses in this section. Other figures examining education combine these six categories into three larger categories of educational attainment in order to create more reliable estimates.

Figure 2: Poverty by Educational Attainment in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
Figure 2 shows that residents with higher educational attainment tend to have lower poverty rates.
  • Residents with less than a high school diploma are about twice as likely to live in poverty as those with a high school diploma or equivalent or some college. 
  • Residents with a high school diploma or equivalent or some college are roughly three times as likely to live in poverty as those with a post-secondary degree. 
Data for post-secondary degree have high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution. 
Figure 3: Educational Attainment by Location, 2014
Figure 3 demonstrates that residents in Forsyth County tend to have lower educational attainment than in peer communities.
  • Residents of Forsyth County are more likely to have less than a high school education, and less likely to have a high school diploma or equivalent or some college, than the majority of peer communities.
  • These educational differences could contribute to differences in poverty rates between communities.
  • A separate analysis shows that in almost all cases, each level of education is associated with similar poverty rates in Forsyth County as in its peer communities.
Bars of a lighter color indicate no statistical difference compared to Forsyth County.

Education and Race/Ethnicity

There are large racial disparities in levels of educational attainment, which could influence racial disparities in poverty.

Figure 4: Educational Attainment of Residents by Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2014
Figure 4 indicates that racial/ethnic minorities tend to have lower educational attainment than White, non-Hispanic residents. 
  • These disparities could contribute to racial disparities in poverty rates. 
  • African American residents are about twice as likely to have less than a high school education as White, non-Hispanic residents.  
  • Hispanic/Latino residents are far more likely to have less than a high school education than other races/ethnicities. 

Figure 5: Poverty Rates by Education and Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2010-2014 
Figure 5 shows that racial disparities in poverty rates persist even when educational attainment is considered.
  • This suggests that educational attainment is not the only cause of disparities in poverty rates by race/ethnicity.
  • These disparities are so great that minority residents with high school diplomas have higher poverty rates than White, non-Hispanic residents without high school diplomas.
Data for post-secondary degree has high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution. 

Education and Gender

Overall, females are more likely than males to live in poverty, but there is no evidence that this is driven by disparities in educational attainment.
Figure 6: Educational Attainment by Gender in Forsyth County, 2014
Figure 6 demonstrates that, overall, the educational attainment of males and females is very similar and, therefore, may not be relevant to the relatively high poverty rates of females. In fact, females are slightly more likely to have post-secondary degrees, indicating that females may have higher poverty rates than males despite having slightly higher educational attainment.
Figure 7: Poverty by Educational Attainment and Gender in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
Figure 7 indicates that the gender disparity in poverty rates is present at every level of educational attainment. 
Christopher Webb, MPP
Christopher is a Data and Research Analyst with Forsyth Futures.  He performs statistical analysis and programming to support work on community issues in Forsyth County. 
He holds Master's in Public Policy from American University and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Business.
If you have questions or comments about the data presented in this section, please contact Christopher at Christopher@ForsythFutures.org or by phone at 336.701.1700 ext. 108.

References

Literature References

1) Haveman, R. & Wolfe, B. (1995).  The determinants of children's attainments: A review of methods and findings.  Journal of Economic Literature, 33(4), 1829-1878
2) Urban Institute (2009).  Promoting economic mobility by increasing postsecondary education.  Retrieved from http://webarchive.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001280_promotingeconomic.pdf

Tabular references

Figures 1,3,6: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Educational attainment: Table S1501 [Data files from ACS 1-year estimates for the year 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_1YR_S1501&prodType=table
Figures 2, 5, 7: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). 2010-2014 5-year public use microdata samples (PUMS) [Data Files]. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/data/pums.html
Figure 4(a):  U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by educational attainment for the population 25 years and over (black or African American alone):  Table B15002B [ Data files from ACS 1-year estimates for the year 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_1YR_B15002B&prodType=table
Figure 4(b):  U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by educational attainment for the population 25 years and over (white alone, not Hispanic or Latino): Table B15002H [ Data files from ACS 1-year estimates for the year 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_1YR_B15002H&prodType=table 
Figure 4(c):  U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by educational attainment for the population 25 years and over (Hispanic or Latino):  Table B15002I [ Data files from ACS 1-year estimates for the year 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_1YR_B15002I&prodType=table