March 16, 2011

Education Attainment by Age Level in the United States

 Does "everyone" go to college nowadays?   What about in the "olden days"?    I thought it would be interesting to look at the education attainment levels in the US among on different age groups.   I'm figuring that most people obtain their education when they are young so the different education attainment levels for different age groups would reflect changing education attainment levels over time.   In other words if more young people go to college today then more young people will have degrees, or if fewer people in their 50's have degrees that would mostly be a reflection of fewer people going to college 20-30 years ago.   However, there are many exceptions among people who go back to college later in life.  But by and large the fast majority of college students are under 30 years old.   OK, enough talk.. lets get to the data!

The Census page : Education Attainment in the United States 2009 
I looked at just the data for everyone over 25 years old for all races.   I am only looking at people over 25 to give people enough time to graduate from college.   I decided to break it down by age group mostly to see how much education attainment levels has actually changed across generations.

First lets look at the entire population.  Education attainment in the US for people 25 years and older is as follows :

Drop Out 13%
High School Diploma 31%
Some College 17%
Associates degree 9%
Bachelors 19%
Graduate 11%

Or Graphically it looks like this :


Here is a table with the % of education attainment by age group :


Drop Out HS Some College Assoc. Bach. Grad
25 to 29 11% 29% 21% 9% 23% 7%
30 to 34 12% 27% 18% 9% 22% 11%
35 to 39 12% 27% 17% 10% 22% 12%
40 to 44 11% 30% 16% 10% 21% 11%
45 to 49 11% 32% 17% 11% 19% 10%
50 to 54 11% 32% 17% 11% 18% 11%
55 to 59 11% 30% 18% 10% 18% 12%
60 to 64 11% 30% 17% 9% 19% 14%
65 to 69 16% 35% 16% 7% 14% 11%
70 to 74 20% 38% 15% 5% 13% 9%
75+ 26% 37% 14% 5% 11% 7%

Here is that same data shown graphically :


Now if you break it down differently and look at who goes to college versus who doesn't it looks like this :




Drop Out HS Any College
25 to 29 11% 29% 60%
30 to 34 12% 27% 61%
35 to 39 12% 27% 61%
40 to 44 11% 30% 58%
45 to 49 11% 32% 57%
50 to 54 11% 32% 57%
55 to 59 11% 30% 59%
60 to 64 11% 30% 59%
65 to 69 16% 35% 48%
70 to 74 20% 38% 42%
75+ 26% 37% 37%

Graphically that looks like this :

Thats a little stark to me.   There isn't much variation in the rate of drop outs, high school grads or people who have some college between ages 25 and 64. However for people 65 years and older the education attainment levels are quite different than for those of us who are younger than 65.

Now if you just look at the % of people who have a 4 year degree or more :



Bachelors or more
25 to 29 31%
30 to 34 34%
35 to 39 34%
40 to 44 32%
45 to 49 29%
50 to 54 29%
55 to 59 31%
60 to 64 33%
65 to 69 26%
70 to 74 23%
75+ 18%


Graphically that looks like this :


If I break it down into larger age groups of about 20 years you can see that there is some generational differences in education :



25 to 44 45 to 64 65 + 
Drop Out 12% 11% 22%
HS 28% 31% 36%
Some College 18% 17% 15%
Associates 10% 10% 5%
Bachelors 22% 19% 13%
Grad 10% 12% 9%

And graphically that looks like this :

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