Thursday, December 04, 2014

Gap continues to grow between rural and metro residents with four-year degrees

More rural adults are attending college and attaining two or four-year degrees. However, rural residents still significantly lag behind their urban counterparts in higher education, and the gap between the two continues to grow, Alexander Marré reports for the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Comparing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008-2012 American Community Survey with Census results from 2000 shows that metro residents between 25 to 64 years old are 14 percent more likely than rural ones to earn a four-year degree, Marré writes. American Community Survey results from 2008-2012 reveal that 18.5 percent of rural residents had a four-year degree, up from 16.2 percent in 2000. But 32.2 percent of metro residents had a four-year degree in 2012, up from 28.4 percent in 2000.

Rural residents did surpass metro ones in getting an associate's degree, with 9.2 percent of rural adults ages 25-64 having a two-year degree in 2012, compared to 6.9 percent in 2000, while 8.4 percent of metro residents had a two-year degree in 2012, compared to 7.3 percent in 2000, Marré writes.

"Increasing college completion rates and attracting in-migrants with college degrees may be a challenge for many rural communities," Marré writes. "Household incomes are lower in rural areas, which could be a barrier for rural students wishing to attend and complete college, especially from persistently poor areas. For rural people who do earn 4-year college degrees, urban areas offer higher earnings and a wider range of potential jobs than are typically available in rural areas. The result is that many rural youth who leave their community for college do not return." (Read more) (USDA graphic)

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