Educational Attainment is Strongly Correlated to All Types of Political and Civic Engagement

Ohio Civic Health Index 2010

November 8, 2010
People with higher levels of education are more likely to volunteer their time, vote, donate money, participate in a protest or a rally, lead civic associations and groups, join an organization, attend a meeting where political issues are discussed, contact or visit a public official, show support to a political party or candidate, and communicate with friends and family through email or the Internet.

An educated community is more likely to work for the common good. For example, in Ohio, working with neighbors to x something in the community is correlated to educational attainment:

High school diploma (or GED) 5.9%
Some college (no BA/BS) 9.2%
Bachelor's degree 19.3%
*ages 25+

Leaders of civic associations and community groups also come more frequently from the ranks of college graduates. Among Americans over 24 with no college experience, only 3.5% are leaders, compared to 13.5% of Americans with at least some college experience. Educated Ohioans are also more likely to vote than their less educated counterparts. The 2008 election clearly demonstrates this relationship (see figure above).

Ohio's volunteering rates reect a similar correlation between education and volunteering:

High school diploma (or GED) 20.4%
Some college, no BA/BS 34.2%
Bachelor's degree 51.5%
*ages 25+

The problem is Ohio's educational attainment rate: We have fewer college graduates than most other states, ranking 44th in the nation, as we pointed out. The only states with fewer college graduates are, in descending order, Nevada, Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Because Ohio's collective problems are not declining, fewer college graduates in Ohio may result in declines in participation and in a citizenry less likely to solve our problems. The Ohio office of Budget and Management projects a $3 billion shortfall for the state in the 2012 scal year. Residents of Ohio communities will face tough decisions about cutting services, increasing taxes, or even ending benet payments. Education helps individuals solve problems together, reach consensus, and creatively address these and many other issues facing Ohio today. Ohio's capital rests within each citizen, and investments made to enhance each individual's capacity will benet the state for years to come.
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