Economic Data

Educational Attainment Data: Comparing Minnesota and the United States

We can use U.S. Census Bureau data to compare the educational attainment of the United States to any of the 50 states; we can use U.S Census Bureau data to compare the educational attainment of the United States to any city contained within the United States (provided data exists);  and we can use U.S. Census Bureau data to compare the educational attainment to compare states to each other, counties to each other, cities to each other, or any combination our hearts desire.

For this blog, we will compare the educational attainment of Minnesota, and the United States. In future blogs, we will compare other city, state, and country combinations. We will also compare city, state, and county; and we will even compare zip codes to one another. Which ones will explore? We will answer this question in due time.  Let’s begin.

United States

The United States is the Super-system. This means all 50 states and their respective counties, cities, town, zip codes, etc. are contained within the borders of the United States. Readers of this blog are familiar with this idea (for a more in-depth exploration of systems and sub-systems click here). This also means the United States meets the (3) systems’ axioms:

1. A system consists of a set of elements.
2. Elements in a system interact.
3. A system has a function, or purpose.

We will take this axioms to be a given for this blog. Instead we will focus on the data. As we can see, the United States is second in every category except graduate and professional.

As the data illustrates, the United States has a lower median annual earnings (MAE) than that of Minnesota. This is good news for many residents of Minnesota who exceed the median annual earnings at each level of the ladder.

Minnesota

As readers of this blog will know, Minnesota is a sub-system of the United States. This means Minnesota meets the  (3) systems’ axioms:

1. A system consists of a set of elements.
2. Elements in a system interact.
3. A system has a function, or purpose.

Again, and for our purposes here, this will be given knowledge to us realize we are dealing with different systems and should treat each data set as its own entity. However, we will observe that the three data sets in this blog have similar behaviors. That is, earnings increase at each level of the educational ladder. However, we observe there are subtle differences.

According to the data, Minnesota has the highest median annual earnings (MAE) at each level of the ladder. For example, the MAE for Minnesota is \$51,239 whereas the MAE is \$50,595 for the United States. It should be noted that at the professional and graduate level MAE for Minnesota is the same as the United States.

One final thought, it should be noted that the U.S. Census Bureau decomposes its data into regions and divisions as well. So, for example, Minnesota educational attainment data can be compared to Iowa educational attainment data and/or Wisconsin educational attainment data. And this is really just the start of what could be an exhaustive exploration of the educational attainment data. One could even compare men and women at each level of the United States system, if the data exists.

Matt Johnson is a blogger/writer for The Systems Scientist and the Urban Dynamics blog. He has also contributed to the Iowa State Daily and Our Black News.

Matt has a Bachelor of Science in Systems Science, with focuses in applied mathematics and economic systems, from Iowa State University. He is also a professional member of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics and the International Society for the Systems Sciences and a scholarly member of Omicron Delta Epsilon, which is an International Honors Society for Economics.

Photo Credit: VideoBlocks