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Report: Evanston ‘brainiest’ town its size in state

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A new analysis of census data asserts that Evanston has more brainpower than any town its size in Illinois.

The study by American City Business Journals looks at educational attainment as reported by the U.S. Census and combines that with average earnings data for each level of education to create an index number that permits ranking communities.

It says that Evanston ranks 9th among the 483 communities nationwide with between 50,000 and 99,999 residents with an index score of 27.205. Oak Park came in 10th nationally in that size category with an index score of 27.447.

The top ranked town nationwide in Evanston's size class was Bethesda, Md., with a score of 38.303.

Others in the top 10 included the Boston suburbs Brookline and Newton Mass., Palo Alto, Cupertino and Davis California, Chapel Hill, N.C., and Boulder, Col.

All the top-ranked small cities on the list tend to be either the home of or located adjacent to major universities.

The rankings were split by population class because of the tendancy of smaller communities to have more homogeneous populations.

For example, in the smallest population category, 1,000 to 9,999 residents, top finisher Chevy Chase Village, Md., had an index score of 47.378 and 10th place Glencoe, Ill. came in at 40.699 — higher than any community in Evanston's size ranking.

Ann Arbor, Mich., was the top community in the over 100,000 population list, scoring 32.406.

Put all towns, regardless of size, into a single list, and Evanston ranks 280th, coming in 18th within Illinois behind a collection of much smaller towns towns mostly in the north and western suburbs of Chicago.

The census data shows that, among Evanston residents at least 25 years of age, 6 percent lack a high school diploma, 11 percent have no more than a high school education, 17 percent have some college but less than a bachelor's degree, 29 percent finished their education with a bachelor's degree and 37 percent have a graduate or professional degree.

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