The rural-urban gap in college completion continues to grow, with fewer than one in five adults in rural communities holding a four-year degree, according to a new report from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Between 2000 and 2015, the share of urban adults with at least a bachelor’s degree grew from 26 percent to 33 percent, while in rural areas the share grew from 15 percent to 19 percent,” report authors note. “Therefore, the urban-rural gap in the share of adults with bachelor’s degrees grew from 11 to 14 percentage points.”
The gap affects the overall health and stability of America’s rural communities. Low educational attainment is linked to higher rates of poverty and unemployment.
“Educational attainment is highly correlated with measures of regional economic prosperity,” the report notes. “Rural counties with the lowest levels of educational attainment face higher poverty, child poverty, unemployment, and population loss than other rural counties.”
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