The Density of Smart People

Richard Florida in The Atlantic:

…the standard way economists measure human capital is to take the percentage of people in a country, state, or metropolitan area with a bachelor's degree or higher.

So I was intrigued by this fascinating analysis by Rob Pitingolo (h/t: Don Peck) which looks at the density of human capital. Pitingolo put together a neat measure that he refers to as “educational attainment density.” Instead of measuring human capital or college degree holders as a function of population, he measures it as a function of land area — that is, as college degree holders per square mile. As he explains:

I compiled the data at two geographic levels: first at the city level and second at the “urban county” level. I realize that comparing these geographies is not always entirely fair. That's why I'm giving away the spreadsheet with all of my work to anyone who wants to build upon this analysis (download it here). I picked these cities by looking at the 50 largest metro areas by population and pulling what I deemed to be the “primary city” from each. In two metro areas, the Twin Cities and Bay Area, I pulled two “primary cities.”

He goes through a variety of analyses — all of which I highly recommend. But let me just show the results of his analysis of college degree density for the 50 largest cities.


More here.