How education impacts Chicago poverty

How education impacts Chicago poverty

1 in 5 Chicagoans living in poverty has a bachelor’s degree. Those without a high school diploma are four times more likely to live in poverty.

Research shows every level of education completed in Chicago and the U.S. improves lifetime earnings, plus median earnings improve.

However, education is no guarantee of escaping or preventing poverty in Chicago. The split of impoverished population by education status is fairly even. Of the Chicagoans living in poverty, 56% have a high school diploma or less, while 44% have at least some college experience.

Of the more than 266,000 Chicagoans living in poverty who are age 25 or older, the age at which most schooling is completed, 65,785 (25%) did not complete high school; 83,490 (31%) received only a high school diploma; 64,076 (24%) attended college but did not get a four-year degree, while 53,040 (20%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education.

Educational attainment isn’t a silver bullet to reducing poverty, but poverty measures show an individual increasing educational attainment can effectively reduce the likelihood of falling into poverty.

Educational attainment increases access to higher-paying jobs and is also associated with a greater likelihood of employment – one of the greatest determinants of poverty. That means those with higher levels of education often get better, higher-paying jobs and experience bouts of unemployment at a much lower rate.

Poverty rates drop precipitously with each higher level of educational attainment, in large part because of these effects.

Those without a high school diploma face poverty rates more than four times higher than those with bachelor’s degrees.

Increasing education for individual Chicagoans goes a long way in improving their individual outcomes, but the city cannot simply focus on that as an adequate solution to solving Chicago’s massive poverty problem. Figuring out which barriers are keeping those with more education in poverty might be a good place to look for answers.

The Illinois Policy Institute’s Center for Poverty Solutions intends to study poverty’s stubborn hold on Chicago and the nation. The center will find ways to fix it by better understanding who is in poverty, why and what’s keeping them there.

Click here to read the center’s initial poverty report.

Click here to help support the center’s efforts.

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