Ranking America’s Smartest Cities

The Daily Beast has used a statistical method to rank the smartest – and dumbest – cities in the USA. They developed an index based on the proportion of college grads in the population as well as other indicators like the number of libraries and non-fiction book sales.

This year’s methodology is similar to last year’s inaugural list, with a couple weighting refinements, and one major change: as our civic engagement quotient—a proxy of a city’s willingness, and ability, to invest in intellectual culture—we dropped voter turnout in favor of libraries per capita. Overall, we divided the criteria into two parts: Half for education, and half for intellectual environment. The education half encompassed the percentage of residents over age 25 that had bachelor’s degrees (25 percent weighting) and graduate degrees (25 percent), compared to the overall population over age 25. The intellectual environmental half had three subparts. First, we looked at year-to-date nonfiction book sales (16.7 percent), as tracked by Nielsen BookScan, the nation’s leading provider of accurate point-of-sale data, which tracks roughly 300,000 titles each week. We also measured the ratio of institutions of higher education (16.7 percent), as defined by the federal government—different than just measuring college degrees, this acknowledges that universities as driver of intellectual vigor of cities and rewards cities with college populations. Finally, libraries per capita (16.7 percent) measures how willing and able a city is to educate the general public, as well as the no-cost opportunities for the public to educate itself.

Once we had all these comparable, per-capita figures, we ranked the cities in each category, assigning 10 points to those near the very top, and 0 to the bottom, with scores in between dropped into a broad bell curve. We then added the totals and multiplied by two, which made for a perfect score of 200, a wash-out score of 0, and an average score right at 100—close to the exact parameters of a classic IQ test.

Boston, Hartford and San Francisco rounded out the three smartest. Las Vegas was the dumbest, not surprisingly. The whole list can be found on their site.

Ranking America’s Smartest, and Dumbest, Cities [Daily Beast]

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One response to “Ranking America’s Smartest Cities

  1. Interesting list–thanks for the link.

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