The Boston area’s educational make-up is pretty textbook, according to a map created by a Texas Christian University professor.
The interactive map, based on Census data and part of a larger project to visualize the country’s shifting demographics, shows that the most-educated neighborhoods in the area are clustered, unsurprisingly, around universities, according to Kyle Walker, director of the Center for Urban Studies at TCU.
“University students are not captured on this map,” Walker said. “But there is kind of a spillover effect.”
The map uses colored dots to represent levels of education for residents age 25 and older: blue for graduate degrees, green for bachelor’s degrees, yellow for some college, orange for high school, and red for less than high school.
Blue dots are clustered in Cambridge (home to Harvard University and MIT), the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the North End. Chinatown, East Boston, Chelsea, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan appear overwhelmingly orange and red.
Other parts of Massachusetts reveal a more even mix, with relatively equal breakdowns of color and degree in Amherst, Burlington, and Woburn. Areas further west skew toward the yellow and orange.
“Educational patterns speak to other types of social sorting and segregation in society,” Walker said. “It speaks to issue of access to resources within cities — inequality within cities.”
Though the map zooms in far enough to reveal dots on specific streets, Walker cautions that those positions are random and not tied to specific residents. Data is mapped by census tracts, which usually encompass 4,000 to 8,000 people, he said.
The best way to interpret the map, Walker said, is to consider the general distribution of dots and look for clusters.
The map has been featured by Business Insider and other publications for its mesmerizing colors and demographic insights.
The patterns, Walker said, can facilitate conversations about educational opportunities within a city as well as the rural-urban divides between cities.
“We’ve talked a lot over the past year about kind of cultural divides in cities and rural areas and how that’s reflected in politics,” Walker said. “My intent in creating something like this is to allow people to explore their communities and learn a little bit more about their communities.”