Greater City Providence

Hey! We’re wicked smaht!

Rob Pitingolo has run an analysis of the 50 largest metro areas in the country measuring the density per square miles of college graduates*. Providence comes out looking pretty damn smart according to this metric, ranking 8th, just below Minneapolis.

Click to enlarge

I compiled the data at two geographic levels: first at the city level and second at the “urban county” level. I realize that comparing these geographies is not always entirely fair. That’s why I’m giving away the spreadsheet with all of my work to anyone who wants to build upon this analysis (download it here). I picked these cities by looking at the 50 largest metro areas by population and pulling what I deemed to be the “primary city” from each. In two metro areas, the Twin Cities and Bay Area, I pulled two “primary cities.”

Originally from, and lots of comments at, The Atlantic

* As an art school drop out, I’m not sure that this is the best metric of smartiness. But I also can’t think of another good indicator, thoughts?

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • what happens if you divide by local unemployment rate of college grads…?

  • I think it’s only because we have a good collection of universities here in the city. Otherwise it’d be a difference story.

    But if we have so many college educated people (self included) why the hell is this state so bass ackwards?

  • Well certainly they know not to run for office, or work for government, generally.

  • See, that’s my point, I didn’t need to graduate from college to know not to run for public office in Rhode Island. So what would be a better way to measure smahts?

  • # of graduates x # of wedgies / rugby players – Johnson and Wales + 5

  • I love it when people reject good news in bad times. It’s so uplifting.

  • You know whats pretty funny? Look at which cities lean republican and which lean democrat.

  • It is reassuring to know that republican idiocy can be quantitatively proven. But it makes me wonder why so many of these right-leaning places with so few college graduates are also high-growth. Why are people getting paid for being statistically “dumb”? Doesn’t seem right.

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