Wow. I’m reading more from the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, and the educational differences are fascinating. When asked “What is the last grade you completed in school?” there were some interesting differences among the faiths.
Over half of Muslims said that graduating high school (32 percent) or less than high school (21 percent) was as far as they had gone. That’s wild. But even wilder is that 70 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses fit into those two categories! I’ve never had the impression that either faith fails to emphasize education, or is associated with significant poverty in America, but there has to be something going on when the numbers are that high.
On the other end of the spectrum, the top three groups represented among the college-graduate or postgraduate crowd were Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus. Respectively, 50 percent of Buddhists, 59 percent of Jews, and 74 percent of Hindus had either college or postgraduate degrees. Remarkable. Now, the sample sizes were smaller for these three faiths, not a surprise since they are a small portion of the overall population, so this finding may be a little less reliable than the previous one. But that doesn’t make it unreliable.
Overall, every faith but one showed what is probably a typical pattern for any demographic when it comes to education: Most are high school graduates, and the rest are more or less equally distributed among “less than high school,” “some college,” “college graduate,” and “postgraduate,” with postgraduate usually being the smallest category. But the Hindus bucked that one. Nearly half of them had a postgraduate degree, and more of them were in that category than any other. (Same deal with the Jews, now that I look more closely; more than one-third of them had a postgraduate degree, more than any other category.)
Seriously, the study is worth a look. My guess is there will be a lot of research building on this survey in the years to come.