Monday, November 9, 2009

Education and poverty: a great blow-your-mind-paradox sunk by DATA!

So I used to like to surprise people by asking them what they thought the demographic correlation between education and poverty rate was.

Because, I would tell them, HAHA, that as education went up, so did poverty.

Like so many great "blow your mind" things...this one isn't true. But it still might be truer than most people would think.

I compared Oregon counties for high school and college attainment rates, and for poverty rates.

First, high school:
There is a general downward trend, with one very significant outlier: Benton County, home of Oregon State University. Like many diagrams, this has a missing quarter: low graduation, low poverty counties.
Second, college:
And here we see even less pattern, with something of a four-quarter look. Although The high-graduation, high-poverty quarter really only has two points: Benton, again, and Multnomah, Oregon's largest county. There are also at least some low-poverty, low-graduation counties. The scale here is also much different than the previous scale. Benton County has 20% more high school graduates (for its population) than Malheur, but it has something like 300% more college graduates (for its population) than Malheur. So the paradox, althoguh not as clear when I actually looked at the information in non-graphic form, is still there.

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