Unequal and Uneven: The Geography of Higher Education Access

The school concentration index (SCI) is a new tool that measures local concentration in higher education markets. Using driving distances and school enrollment data across all higher education institutional types except advanced degrees, this interactive map visualizes this concentration by zip code tabulation area. (Zip code tabulation areas are areal representations of the more familiar USPS ZIP code service areas; we use the short form “zip” here for ease of reading.) The SCI ranges from 0, indicating perfect competition, to 10,000, indicating that one school accounts for all the enrollment for that zip; on the map, this range is visualized as green (perfect competition) to dark red (single monopolist). Zips that are maroon in color indicate an education desert—no higher ed nearby. Dark maroon areas are those with no associated zip—areas with no residents, like national parks or bodies of water.

As you explore the map, note that the DOJ and FTC use similar indices to measure market concentration in all types of markets. According to their benchmarks, a highly concentrated market scores above 2500 on the scale.

This map is the first in a series of publications examining market power in the US higher education system, and its effects on cost, access, indebtedness, and earning power. To read an explanatory blog post introducing and contextualizing the map and methodology, click here.

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Public
Private not-for-profit
Private for-profit
Bachelor Degree
Associate Degree
Below Associate Degree

Summary Statistics - 45min Driving Distance

Summary Statistics Table by Driving Distance

Category mean sd min p25 p50 p75 max kurtosis skewness
All Schools 5539.447 3281.773 245.8661 2741.094 5015.344 9496.006 10000 1.593175 0.138967
Public 6796.831 3108.433 456.3623 4476.529 6666.103 10000 10000 1.732492 -0.3539089
Private (non-profit) 5964.596 3365.09 465.203 2919.876 5251.379 10000 10000 1.426825 0.0341698
Private (for-profit) 4905.507 3499.663 234.5844 1713.816 3972.233 9553.371 10000 1.631507 0.3837681
Bachelor's 6164.352 3283.224 312.8086 3160.057 5877.005 10000 10000 1.520441 -0.0975502
Associate's 7265.785 3024.815 600.8989 4939.334 8673.187 10000 10000 2.019186 -0.6808475
Less Than Two Years 5179.488 3584.086 261.982 1922.497 4262.119 10000 10000 1.500385 0.2792287

Visual Distributions of SCI by Institution Type

Extremely right-skewed SCI density curves across all institution levels. Extremely right-skewed SCI density curves across all institution types.

Summary Statistics Table by Driving Distance

Category mean sd min p25 p50 p75 max kurtosis skewness
All Schools 4503.8 3159.665 195.9734 1915.751 3661.483 6652.006 10000 2.035819 0.5750114
Public 5759.223 3186.462 311.3652 3207.186 5167.029 10000 10000 1.667613 0.1142618
Private (non-profit) 5171.03 3385.569 397.6435 2175.294 4195.979 9873.499 10000 1.601716 0.3514304
Private (for-profit) 4432.704 3449.03 190.5145 1425.498 3351.583 7183.686 10000 1.864131 0.577559
Bachelor's 5307.615 3282.233 257.5398 2495.532 4641.262 8922.851 10000 1.637169 0.2540416
Associate's 6430.2 3177.219 434.2038 3750.125 6264.648 10000 10000 1.651823 -0.2626105
Less Than Two Years 4499.299 3492.346 210.0311 1488.412 3428.656 7473.131 10000 1.813107 0.5435708

Visual Distributions of SCI by Institution Type

Extremely right-skewed SCI density curves across all institution levels. Extremely right-skewed SCI density curves across all institution types.

Summary Statistics Table by Driving Distance

Category mean sd min p25 p50 p75 max kurtosis skewness
All Schools 3585.764 2868.06 180.4202 1431.688 2677.434 4985.756 10000 3.027472 1.029975
Public 4788.07 3061.135 247.3942 2432.937 4060.835 6546.857 10000 2.091632 0.5535847
Private (non-profit) 4465.914 3282.417 352.4365 1714.323 3328.453 6948.132 10000 1.979261 0.6465857
Private (for-profit) 3908.767 3278.526 195.0784 1187.927 2773.087 5661.157 10000 2.312426 0.8188756
Bachelor's 4547.306 3147.415 235.9162 1987.76 3673.203 6825.798 10000 2.020789 0.573882
Associate's 5565.787 3138.848 345.152 3016.019 5047.601 8984.204 10000 1.689953 0.1422243
Less Than Two Years 3885.783 3315.952 186.623 1176.937 2737.083 5535.537 10000 2.319588 0.8267024

Visual Distributions of SCI by Institution Type

Extremely right-skewed SCI density curves across all institution levels. Extremely right-skewed SCI density curves across all institution types.

Methodology

The academic year represented here is 2016 - 2017. For more information on the implications of the map and our preliminary findings, read our report here. Below, find explanations of all variables. Email us with questions about methods and findings here.

Variables derived for each ZCTA:

Clear-cut variables per ZCTA:

Exclusion Criteria:

State-by-State Comparisons Across All School Types

About Our Researchers

This project was produced by the Higher Education Finance Team at Jain Family Institute. Principal researchers were Laura Beamer and Francis Tseng, with additional research from Ben Weintraut, Jack Gross, Maya Adereth, and Marshall Steinbaum.

About Our Sources

This analysis uses school-reported data from the final data release of 2016-17 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), 12-month enrollment data from the Provisional 2017 IPEDS database which lists enrollment for the previous academic year, 2016 5-year population and median income estimates from the American Community Survey, school isochrone creation from OpenStreetMap, and mapping abilities from MapBox and the US Census Bureau’s 2018 TIGER/Line Shapefiles.

Citations