The ABC Data Exchange

Education and Development

Having higher education credentials generally allows for access to higher income jobs, which promotes asset building.

Lower-education jobs tend to be more volatile in times of recession and economic uncertainty such as the 2008 economic recession and COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure on this page highlight attainment of a post-secondary degree — an Associate’s Degree or higher.

Literature Review Highlights


Higher family assets are associated with both college attendance and college graduation of children within the family, even when controlling for parents’ income.  Along these same lines, assets are associated with parents’ educational expectations of their children. There is a positive relationship between assets and parental education expectations, even when controlling for income. High-asset families had higher expectations for their children. [1]

Higher family liquid assets (stocks and bonds) are associated with higher school-aged children math and reading scores, even when controlling for income.  The authors, “speculate that this maybe partly due to a stronger future orientation or the financial savvy of parents who invest in these kinds of assets.” In this study, higher assets was also associated – albeit weakly – with higher cognitive development of school-aged children. [2]

Families with more assets can make bequests to children, increasing social mobility. [3]

Reviewing the literature, Grinstein-Weiss et al. note the following ways that assets impact children:

  1. Provide cushions to families, lessening the impact of hardship or distress;
  2. Reduce parental stress, which could manifest itself on children;
  3. Help parents invest in children’s educational and occupational opportunities.
  4. Change children’s attitudes and expectations of themselves. [4]
Literature Review References

[1] Zhan, M., & Sherraden, M. (2003). Assets, expectations, and children’s educational achievement in female-headed households. Social Service Review, 77(2), 191-211. Shanks, T. R. W., & Destin, M. (2009). Parental expectations and educational outcomes for young African American adults: Do household assets matter?. Race and Social Problems, 1(1), 27-35. Conley, D. (2001). Capital for college: Parental assets and postsecondary schooling. Sociology of Education, 59-72.

[2] Yeung, W. J., & Conley, D. (2008). Black–white achievement gap and family wealth. Child Development, 79(2), 303-324.

[3] Lerman, R. I., & McKernan, S. M. (2008). The effects of holding assets on social and economic outcomes of families: A review of theory and evidence. The Urban Institute, November.

[4] Grinstein-Weiss, M., Shanks, T. R. W., & Beverly, S. G. (2014). Family assets and child outcomes: Evidence and directions. The Future of Children, 147-170.

Major Findings

The percentage of adults with an Associate’s Degree or higher increased from 2009-2021.
Black, Hispanic/Latino, and older adults had lower levels of educational attainment.

Educational Attainment

Education plays a significant role in social mobility, the prevention of poverty, the ability for people to avoid the conditions of poverty, and the reduction of crime rates [1-4]. Graduating from college significantly increases the likelihood of an individual’s economic success [3-6].

Post-secondary education — education attained after high school — plays an important role in upward mobility [3]. This includes but is not limited to college and university. This measure describes the percentage of the population, 25-years-old and older, with at least an Associate’s degree.

While it is recognized that certificate programs are also important to a community, the data for such information is not currently available for analysis. View data notes for this measure.

Data Visualization

Residents with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher (Forsyth County, 2021)

Use the dropdown menu below to view data on different groups.

Key Takeaways

There was an increase in adults with an Associate’s Degree or higher 2009-2021.

The percentage of adults 25 and older with an Associate’s degree or higher went from about 31% in 2009 to about 41% in 2021.

Forsyth County had much lower levels of educational attainment than Durham County.

In 2021, Forsyth County adults with an Associate’s Degree or higher was about 41% compared to 56% of Durham County residents.

Residents with higher income had higher rates of educational attainment.

In 2021, about 61% of adults in households with over $100,000 in income had an Associate’s Degree or higher compared to 22% of adults in households with an income of $20,001-40,000.

Older adults 65 years and older had lower levels of educational attainment compared to adults under the age of 65.
Major disparities were present by race/ethnicity.

In 2021, White adults had the highest rate of Associate’s Degree or higher at about 50% compared to 28% of Black adults and 17% of Hispanic/Latino adults.