Change Indicator

Educational Attainment - Percent of population (age 25 to 64) in Pennsylvania

Educational Attainment - Percent of population (age 25 to 64)

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Note: Non-consecutive years appear adjacent in the trend line
because one or more years have been deselected.

Why This Indicator Matters

Educational attainment refers to the highest degree or level of education completed by an individual.[1] The educational attainment achieved by the general population has gradually increased over the past decade, improving the quality of the American workforce, and allowing the United States to remain competitive within the global market.[2] Despite these increases, however, many Americans remain unable to achieve a high education level because of their low-income status. This is largely due to educational attainment having a positive correlation with average earnings, suggesting that those with higher degree levels typically earn higher wages. Children born into low-attaining, low-earning families simply lack the economic and social resources that those born into high-attaining, high-earning families use to achieve postsecondary education, perpetuating their socioeconomic status.[3]

Other family characteristics pertaining to academic experiences and achievement have also been found to affect the future educational attainment of children. In fact, research findings suggest that living in a household without a parent who has completed high school is associated with numerous poor educational outcomes, including low achievement scores, having to repeat a grade, and dropping out of high school all together.[4] Gaps in educational attainment by family income are believed to play a significant role in accounting for income inequality and socioeconomic mobility, characterized as one’s ability to move from one social or economic class to another.[5] Thus, educational attainment is an incredibly important statistic to measure. A population’s level of education is typically predictive of other factors as well, such as its literacy rate, unemployment rate, and average household income.[6]

[1] United States Census Bureau. (2021). About Educational Attainment.

[2] United States Department of Commerce. (2021). Spotlight on U.S. Educational Attainment.

[3] Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (TCI). (2014). Unequal Opportunities: Fewer Resources, Worse Outcomes for Students in Schools with Concentrated Poverty.

[4] National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2021). Characteristics of Children’s Families.

[5] Chingos, M. & Dynarski, S. (2015). How can we Track Trends in Educational Attainment by Parental Income? Hint: Not with the Current Population Survey. Brookings Institution.

[6] The Chung Report. (2017). Educational Attainment, Explained.

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Definition and Source



The percent of population age 25 through 64 years by the highest level of education completed.

Data Source

(2005 - 2013) U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 3-year estimates (B15001)

(2014 - current) U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 1-year estimate (B15001)


(2005 - 2013) The six smallest counties are not included in the ACS – Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Montour, Potter, and Sullivan.  Data used for those counties are small area (PUMA) figures.

(2014 - current) Single year estimates should not be compared to prior 3-year estimates. The 27 smallest counties are not included in the ACS - Bedford, Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, Montour, Perry, Pike, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Wayne and Wyoming.  Data used for those counties are small area (PUMA) figures.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau did not release 2020 1-year estimates.

Last Updated

September 2023