Last Friday, my list of America's Brainiest Cities ran over at The Daily Beast. Boulder topped the list, which comprised a mix of larger knowledge-intensive metros like Washington, D.C., Boston, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Austin, and Seattle, and college towns like Ithaca, Charlottesville, Madison, Iowa City, and Durham, North Carolina, among others.
The map above, prepared by Zara Matheson of the Martin Prosperity Institute, shows the performance of all U.S. metros on our Brainiest Metros Index developed with my colleague Charlotta Mellander. The index is based on three variables:
- The share of adults 25 years of age and older with a PhD, master's, or professional degree (from the U.S. Census American Community Survey).
- Computer scientists and mathematicians as a share of all employment.
- Scientists (physical, biological, social) as a share of total metro employment (both from Bureau of Labor Statistics).
The Index weights all three variables equally and covers 339 U.S. metro regions.
Now let's look quickly at how U.S. metros perform on these three key factors that make up the overall index.
The first chart above maps U.S. metros on the first variable - the share of adults with a PhD, master's, or professional degree. The blue shaded areas show regions that score highly on this variable. Washington, D.C. is the clear leader among larger metros (those with more than one million people). Greater Boston and the San Francisco Bay area also have considerable concentrations. But the highest-scoring metros are all college towns that are home to large research-intensive universities - Ithaca (Cornell), Boulder (University of Colorado), Corvallis (Oregon State), Charlottesville (University of Virginia), State College (Penn State), Iowa State (University of Iowa), Lawrence (University of Kansas), and Gainesville (University of Florida).