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Two California Cities In Top 10 Of Education Study

With the average cost of attendance at a four-year college having fallen by around 10 percent in the past three years, the personal-finance website WalletHub this week released its report on 2023’s Most & Least Educated Cities in America, as well as expert commentary.

To determine where the most educated Americans are choosing to settle down, WalletHub compared the 150 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across 11 key metrics. The data set ranges from the share of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher to the racial education gap to the quality of the public-school system.


Most Educated Cities

The report noted Ann Arbor, Michigan as the number one Most Educated city, followed by San Jose, CA at number two; Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; Madison, WI; Durham, NC; Boston, MA; Raleigh, NC; Seattle, WA; and Austin, Texas rounding out the top 10 on the list.


Least Educated Cities

Five California cities were in the bottom of the rankings, making up half the Least Educated cities list. At number 141 was Salinas, CA, followed by Corpus Christi, TX; Beaumont, TX; Hickory, NC; Stockton, CA; Modsto, CA; Bakersfield, CA; McAllen, TX; Brownsville, TX; and, the city of Visalia, CA came in at number 150, last one on the list.


Key Stats

The Ann Arbor, MI, metro area has the highest share of bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older, 57.20 percent, which is 3.8 times higher than in Visalia, CA, the metro area with the lowest at 15.20 percent.

The El Paso, TX, metro area has the highest racial education gap, with the share of black bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older at 23.75 percent, compared with 20.78 percent for their white counterparts, a difference of 2.96 percent favoring black people. For comparison, the national average for black people with the same attributes is 15.07 percent, and it is 23.32 percent for their white counterparts.

The Anchorage, AK, metro area has the highest gender education gap, with the share of female bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older at 23.25 percent, compared with 18.64 percent for their male counterparts, a difference of 4.61 percent favoring women. For comparison, the national average for women with the same attributes is 21.03 percent, and it is 20.12 percent for their male counterparts.

To view the full report, visit:


Expert Commentary

Should local authorities target policies and programs to attract highly educated people? If so, what works?

“Highly educated people increase labor force productivity, and they invest heavily in the next generation. Because they see the fruits of their knowledge and skills, highly educated people typically view education as the golden ticket for children’s success. Thus, communities with affordable, high-quality childcare options and quality public schools can better attract highly educated people interested in raising children.”

Molly Martin – Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University


“A well-educated community is more likely to make good decisions when electing leaders. Those communities tend to have lower crime rates and are less likely to have a variety of health and environmental hazards. In addition, more education leads to higher worker productivity, economic growth, and living standards for the community in general. Greater parental education correlates positively with children’s health, cognitive abilities, and academic achievement as well. Thus, I would argue that local authorities, especially those in distressed areas, should target policies and programs to attract highly educated people. To attract highly educated individuals, local authorities should encourage job creation for highly educated workers and invest in infrastructure and amenities in their communities. Many state and local governments routinely try to do this: some fail while some turn out to be successful. There is research available regarding the effectiveness of these programs. Local governments should opt for evidence-based policymaking.”

Kuzey Yilmaz – Associate Professor, Cleveland State University


Are highly educated cities better able to withstand economic shocks?

“Yes! A highly educated city is better able to withstand economic shocks because highly educated workers have a good understanding of broad concepts. As their knowledge is not tied to a particular job, they can be more flexible in switching careers down the road. In some cases, these workers can even take jobs that are not at all related to their field of study in college. On the other hand, less educated workers are trained to perform specific tasks for specific occupations, and it might be difficult for them to apply their knowledge to other fields and industries.”

Kuzey Yilmaz – Associate Professor, Cleveland State University


What are the top education issues in 2023?

“The first issue is teacher retention. At all levels, teachers are leaving the profession because the U.S. continues to devalue educators and their expertise while increasing bureaucratic requirements. We need to better compensate our educators and respect their authority and experience. A second issue is the privatization of U.S. higher education over the last 50 years. The best predictor of whether a person attends and graduates from college is not their grades or test scores, but their parents’ income. Public colleges and universities have increased tuition rates because state funding has dried up … We need to recognize the societal benefits of a well-educated population and better fund public colleges and universities.”

Molly Martin – Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University