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Crosstabs - A Closer Look at the Economics & Demographics of Colorado

Changes in Colorado's Educational Attainment 2010 to 2019

Jun 4, 2021 • Colorado State Demography Office


Changes in Colorado’s Educational Attainment 2010 to 2019

An analysis of educational attainment among Colorado residents age 25 and older shows:

–Educational attainment is increasing in Colorado. Between 2010 and 2019, the percentage of Colorado residents with at least a bachelor’s degree increased from 36.6 percent to 42.8 percent and ranks second in the United States. The total number of residents 25+ with at least a bachelor’s degree increased by approximately forty percent or by 485,000 people. Colorado’s total population 25 and older increased by 19%, indicating that educational attainment is growing faster than the population. Within this increase, the educational attainment of people identifying as Hispanic and “Other People of Color” effectively doubled.

–The majority of Colorado’s adult population was born in another state. In 2019, half of these residents held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to about 33 percent of residents born in Colorado and 34 percent of those who are foreign-born. Among people identifying as Hispanic, 28.7 percent born in another state held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 15.9 percent born in Colorado.

–Data and research suggest that differences in educational attainment by place of birth, the heart of the “Colorado Paradox”, are due to the positive correlation between educational attainment and mobility. In 2019, half of Colorado residents born in another state had at least a bachelor’s degree. This pattern is consistent with the United States as a whole; people living in a different state have higher educational attainment than those living in their state of birth. People with at least a bachelor’s degree are mobile and can move to pursue employment and other opportunities. Results of this analysis suggest that the “Colorado Paradox” is more a sign of a dynamic Colorado economy that can attract highly educated people, than a persistent problem of Colorado’s education system. Interestingly, between 2010 and 2019, the proportion of those born in Colorado holding at least a bachelor’s degree increased by nearly twenty percent, more than the growth in bachelor’s degree or greater from in-migration from other states.

–In 2019, 18.5 percent of Colorado’s Hispanic population over age 25 held at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 17.5 percent of the U.S. States Hispanic population. Colorado ranks 23rd in the nation in terms of educational attainment among people identifying as Hispanic compared to 2nd in the US for the total population, illustrating the continued gap in attainment by race and ethnicity. Addressing this gap will be critical for Colorado’s continued productivity. Across the board, Colorado has seen an increase in the population with a Bachelor’s degree or higher regardless of race or ethnicity and regardless of place of birth. However, significant gaps still exist by place of birth as well as by race and ethnicity.

Access the full paper here