The Knowledge Divide:

Education Inequality in Missouri 2000


David J. Peters

Report Button
Download File

Policy makers, researchers and academics are increasingly recognizing the links between inequality and other social and economic phenomena. Even within the United States, high levels of education inequality persist in many areas - what we term a knowledge divide. So, why is educational inequality important? It is important because educational attainment and earning are high correlated. Areas with concentration of low educational attainment are more likely to be economically distressed.

The degree of education inequality across Missouri was measured by the Gini coefficient using 2000 Census data at the tract-level. Educational attainment data for this analysis was extracted from the 2000 U.S. Census Summary File 3, which consists of 813 detailed tables of social, economic and housing characteristics compiled from a sample of approximately 1 in 6 Missouri households that received the Census 2000 long-form questionnaire.

Low education centers were defined as those areas having inequality/Gini scores that were 1.0 or more standard deviations above the mean and having 50% or more persons age 25 and older without a high school diploma/GED. This indicates a concentration of persons without a high school diploma/GED in the area.

Low education centers in southeast Missouri were located to the east and northeast of Potosi in Washington County, and in most of Wayne County centered around Piedmont. Washington County is a historic lead mining area, and most o Wayne County is comprised of Mark Twain National Forest and Wappapello Lake.

Low education centers in the Missouri Bootheel were located in Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid and Pemiscot counties. In addition to being persistently poor, these areas are engaged in large-scale intensive agriculture of cash crops.

Low education centers in the major metropolitan areas were located in the central city areas of Kansas City and St. Louis. In Kansas City, this area extended to the north and northeast of downtown from I-70 north to the Missouri River, and in an area surrounding Kauffman Stadium. In St. Louis City, this area extended from southwest of downtown along I-55 and the Mississippi River, and in an area northwest of downtown between I-70 and I-64.

Education equality centers were defined as areas having inequality/Gini scores that were 1.0 or more standard deviations below the mean. This low inequality, or education equality, indicates that there is little concentration of educational attainment in any one category - it is more evenly distributed across all categories from less than high school to graduate degrees. Therefore, areas with more highly educated persons will generally exhibit lower education inequality, since there is usually only a small number of these persons in most areas.

Equality centers were located in areas dominated by institutions of higher education and the health care industry. In rural areas this included Kirksville in Adair County, Maryville in Nodaway County, Warrensburg in Johnson County, Rolla in Phelps County, Cape Girardeau in Cape Girardeau County and Moberly in Randolph County. In urban areas this included Columbia and the southern portion of Boone County, and Springfield in Greene and northern Christian counties.

Equality centers were located around military bases, such as Whiteman Air Force Base in Johnson County and Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County.

Equality centers were also located in the state's capital of Jefferson City and its surrounding areas in Cole County; and in northern Camden County in the heart of the Lake of the Ozarks, home of many retirees.

Equality centers in the Kansas City metropolitan area were located around the airport in Platte County; in and around Kansas City and Liberty in Ray County; in Blue Springs, Independence and Lee's Summit in suburban Jackson County; and in areas of Kansas City around Swope Park and areas directly bordering Leawood KS and Mission Hills KS.

Equality centers in the St. Louis metropolitan area were located mainly in St. Louis County, in the western area, in the north central area around Maryland Heights and in cities near St. Louis City such as Brentwood and Webster Groves. In St. Charles County, equality centers areas were located in the southern part of the county around Lake St. Louis, O'Fallon and Weldon Springs. In St. Louis City, equality areas were located in the central downtown area along the river and in areas surrounding Forest Park.

Education Inequality in Missouri by Census Tract 2000


Education Inequality in the Kansas City Metro Area by Census Tract 2000


Education Inequality in the St. Louis Metro Area by Census Tract 2000


Return to the Top