TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Most (and Least) Productive State Higher Education Systems

The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed report on a new study that measures the productivity of each state's higher education system.  The study from the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability ranks the fifty states by comparing the median earnings of people at each degree level to the cost of each degree.  Under this measure, the ten most productive state higher education systems are:

  1. Florida
  2. Colorado
  3. Washington
  4. Utah
  5. North Dakota
  6. Oklahoma
  7. West Virginia
  8. Montana
  9. South Dakota
  10. Kansas

The ten least productive state higher education systems are:

  1. Alaska
  2. Wyoming
  3. Delaware
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Connecticut
  6. Hawaii
  7. Massachusetts
  8. New Jersey
  9. Vermont
  10. Maryland

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Yes, if one assumes that the sole purpose of a degree is to earn more money, this is a very useful survey. Certainly, everyday observation tells us that the citizens of Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kansas are better educated and more sophisticated than those of backward states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. After all, all three states voted for Bush twice, and McCain so far once: what better proof of their superior educational systems could one possibly have?

Posted by: mike livingston | Jul 19, 2009 4:53:23 PM

That seems like a pretty stupid means of measurement. There are so many other factors that determine income other than the education system. How much money was wasted on that study?

Posted by: Woody | Jul 20, 2009 8:41:52 PM