Disparity between Poverty and Education in Washington D.C.


Despite having the highest rate of college graduates in the country, Washington D.C. has the second highest rate of poverty in the United States.

About 44.2 percent of people living in the district above the age of 25 hold bachelor degrees; however, the percentage of people living below the poverty level is about 19.9 percent, the second highest in the country after Louisiana according to a report published by the Census Bureau.

These findings contradict the notion that college education is the key to the eradication of poverty. According to an Ohio University report “high poverty rates have been linked to low levels of educational attainment.” However, this widely held view does not seem to correspond to statistics in the district.

A reason for this contradiction may be that persons who attend universities in the district come from other states and return to their homes after graduation. Other graduates move to the suburbs and to nearby states such as Virginia and Maryland.

Howard University Law School student Adrian Showells experienced that many of the students he goes to school with are not from Washington D.C. and eventually leave the area after graduation. “Most of the public schools in D.C. do not provide quality education, so people raised here do not have the opportunity to go to college,” Showells said.

Originally from Delaware, 25-year-old Showells, like many other students graduating from Washington D.C. universities, plans to return to his home after attaining his law degree “I will probably go back to Delaware because the job market in the metropolitan area is too competitive.” Showells said.  

Furthermore, the Brookings Institution reports that the high level of education in the district corresponds to the number of residents employed in government and professional services and not with the overall population that is made up of over 60 percent blacks and 7.9 percent Hispanics.

“While more than 80 percent of white adults in Washington have a bachelor’s degree, only 17 percent of blacks and 25 percent of Hispanics do,” the institution reported.