The material presented on this website is based on the study "A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity."

About the study

The aim of this study is to inform policymakers, educators, business executives, civic leaders, and other stakeholders about the importance of developing and deploying deliberate strategies and investments to boost education and training in their regions. We also attempt to demonstrate the vital role that attracting specialized talent from other regions and nations plays in boosting regional economic vitality.

To learn how human capital dynamics are changing the paradigm of regional economic performance, we developed a data set of educational attainment for the workforce in U.S. metropolitan areas broken out by occupation for 1990, 2000 and 2010. This provided us with a rich framework to delineate and analyze the similarities and disparities of educational attainment and determine its importance to economic performance. We used this data set to examine many facets of the statistical relationships among the educational achievement, occupational and industry composition of the workforce, and overall regional economic prosperity, measured as real GDP per capita and real wages per worker.

About the webtool

The supplementary webtool embedded in this site is designed for students, job seekers, employers, human resources analysts, educators, and an array of other users. Use it to search the complete educational profiles for the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas and for more than 300 occupations for 1990, 2000, and 2010. Users can also find the top hiring industries and the average annual salary (as of 2011) for each occupation in the metropolitan areas. Our How to Use page provides specific and tailored examples of how to utilize the webtool.

How does the purpose of this study align with the Milken Institute's mission?

A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, the Milken Institute believes in the power of capital markets to solve urgent social and economic challenges and improve lives. More than 40 years ago, Institute Chairman Michael Milken developed a formula for prosperity that can be applied in any economic cycle.

P=Ft (HC+ + SC + RA)

It says that prosperity equals the effect of financial technologies acting as a multiplier on the total value of human capital, social capital and the real assets - cash, receivables, land, buildings, etc. - typically found on balance sheets. Social capital includes educational, cultural, religious and medical institutions and such intangibles as the rule of law and enforceable property rights. Human capital represents the skills, training and productivity of people. According to our chairman, "the macro view sees the 21st century defined by global competition for the world's most valuable asset, human capital."

At the heart of our work is the idea that societies prosper if they have an educated, healthy workforce; open and efficient capital markets; and effective social institutions. Our mission is to improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance health. By creating ways to spread the benefits of human, financial and social capital to as many people as possible - the democratization of capital - we hope to contribute to prosperity and freedom in all corners of the globe.

Why did Apollo Group sponsor the study?

As part of its mission to investigate the value, importance, and future of education, the Apollo Group is conducting multiple studies to examine the complex convergence of higher education, workforce skills, and career development. Through large-scale surveys of students, workers and employers; environmental scanning of educational and career trends; expert interviews and think tanks; and case studies of organizational best practices, Apollo Group sheds light on critical workforce issues from national and local perspectives. Corporate and academic research partnerships with leading institutions help to expand the scope of these investigations and refine the research-based recommendations for stakeholders in education, industry, and government.

To augment its ongoing workforce research, the Apollo Group sponsored the Milken Institute study A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity to promote a macroeconomic perspective on the value of education to the individual and society. The study specifically complements the Apollo Group's analysis of metro-area workforce skills gaps, the return on investment of education, and the future of work and careers. The partnership and continuing dialogue between the Apollo Group and the Milken Institute during the course of the study strengthened the research outcomes and the validity of the research-based policy recommendations.