These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Massachusetts


We used science and data to determine which of Massachusetts’s cities are dumb as rocks.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

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According to a recent study by The Washington Post, Massachusetts is the smartest state in America; folks in Massachusetts have the highest IQs in the nation and the state has the highest rate of college grad residents.

Therefore it’s important to keep in mind when reading this list that although these cities are relatively dumb in Massachusetts standards, they are still located in the smartest state in America.

So which cities in Massachusetts are lagging behind the rest of the hyper-educated state?

After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Bay State:

  1. Holyoke (Photos)
  2. Fall River (Photos)
  3. Springfield (Photos)
  4. Lawrence (Photos)
  5. Everett (Photos)
  6. New Bedford (Photos)
  7. Brockton (Photos)
  8. Revere (Photos)
  9. Lynn (Photos)
  10. Chelsea (Photos)

For more Massachusetts reading, check out:

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How we determined the dumbest cities in the Bay State

We realize that formal education isn’t everything when it comes to being smart, but on the other hand not knowing the difference between they’re, their, and there is always going to make you look pretty stupid.

So we narrowed down our criteria to focus both on a city’s educational opportunities and what percentage of the population takes advantage of those opportunities.

In short, we came up with these criteria to determine the dumbest cities in Massachusetts:

  • % of city’s population with less than a high school education (Age 25+)
  • % of high school dropouts (Ages 16-19)

Note: We only looked at cities with populations greater than 5,000, leaving us 53 cities in Massachusetts to rank. We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers.

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1. Holyoke

Dumbest Massachusetts

Population: 40,079
Adults Without High School Diploma: 23.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 16.7%

Ah, poor old Holyoke gets picked on a lot by us – we recently ranked is as the most dangerous city in Massachusetts and now the data (it’s not our fault!) has revealed the Holyoke is also the dumbest place in Mass.

Holyoke has the highest teenage high school dropout rate in the state, with 16.7% of students opting out of basic education; that’s 5% higher than the next highest rate in Mass, and more than four times higher than the state average. Sheesh.

The adults in Holyoke are also severely undereducated, with 23.2% of residents over the age of 25 lacking a high school diploma. That’s 10% higher than the state average.

2. Fall River

Dumbest Massachusetts

Source: Public domain

Population: 88,756
Adults Without High School Diploma: 29.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.4%

Located about 50 miles south of Boston, Fall River ranks as the second dumbest city in Massachusetts, due to an uneducated adult population and a high rate of teenage dropouts.

Nearly 3 in 10 adults living in Fall River lacks a GED, which is the third highest rate in the state and more than twice as high as the state average.

Fall River’s dropout rate of 8.4% is also the fifth worst in the state and more than twice as bad as the average for cities in Massachusetts with populations over 5,000.

3. Springfield

Dumbest Massachusetts

Population: 153,836
Adults Without High School Diploma: 24.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 9.1%

Springfield cannot be discounted as a totally unintelligent city; the Hartford-Springfield region has 32 universities and liberal arts colleges, which is the second highest concentration of higher-learning institutions in America.

Unfortunately, Springfield has the third highest dropout rate in the state, with 9.1% of Springfield’s teenagers dropping out of high school and eliminating the possibility of enjoying any of these numerous institutions.

The older population also hurts Springfield’s smartness score, as the city has the fifth highest rate of uneducated adults in Massachusetts, with almost a quarter of adult residents lacking a high school degree.

4. Lawrence

Dumbest Massachusetts

Source: Public domain

Population: 77,364
Adults Without High School Diploma: 31.5%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 7.8%

Located on the Merrimack River in the northeastern part of the state, Lawrence ranks as the fourth dumbest city overall in Massachusetts.

Though Lawrence has the honor of being the city where Robert Frost published some of his first poems, the city also has the distinction of having the second most uneducated adult population in the state.

31.5% of Lawrence residents over the age of 25 lack a GED and 7.8% of teenagers drop out of high school each year; both of these rates are more than twice as high as the state average, making Lawrence look pretty dumb.

5. Everett

Dumbest Massachusetts

Source: Public domain

Population: 42,758
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 11.7%

Everett’s motto touts that it’s a “City of Pride, Progress, and Possibilities,” but this city just north of downtown Boston fails to adhere to these qualities in terms of education.

Teenagers in Everett drop out at the second highest rate in Massachusetts, with about 12 of every 100 students severely limiting their “possibilities” by not completing basic education.

Everett also has the tenth highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, with 19.2% of residents over the age of 25 lacking a high school diploma.

6. New Bedford

Dumbest Massachusetts

Population: 94,873
Adults Without High School Diploma: 28.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 6.0%

New Bedford ranks as the sixth dumbest city in Massachusetts, with the fourth highest rate of uneducated adults in the state.

28.9% of adults living in New Bedford do not have a high school diploma, which is well over twice as high as the state average.

The dropout rate for teenagers in high school is also 2.3% higher than the state average, which gives New Bedford a pretty low smartness score overall.

7. Brockton

Dumbest Massachusetts

Population: 94,267
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 6.8%

Brockton already ranked as the fifth most dangerous city in Mass in another piece we did, so combining that with the fact that it’s also the seventh dumbest city in the state makes it seem like a not-so-great place.

Brockton ranked among the worst ten cities in both categories; nearly 2 in 10 adults lack a GED and the dropout rate for teens in high school is 6.8%.

8. Revere

Dumbest Massachusetts

Population: 53,258
Adults Without High School Diploma: 18.0%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.1%

Located just five miles northeast of downtown Boston, Revere borders three other cities that are on this list: Everett, Lynn, and Chelsea. So that seems to be the epicenter of intellectual-deficiency in Massachusetts.

The teenage high school dropout rate in Revere is the sixth worst in the state, with more than 8 of every 100 students opting out of basic education each year.

The rate of adults without high school diplomas is also 5% higher in Revere than Massachusetts’ average.

9. Lynn

Dumbest Massachusetts

Population: 91,289
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 6.5%

The largest city in Essex County, Lynn ranks as the ninth dumbest city in Massachusetts overall.

Roughly 2 out of every 10 adults you meet in Lynn never completed high school, which ranks as the eighth highest rate in the state.

The current dropout rate for teens isn’t anything to applaud either, with 6.5% of students dropping out of Lynn’s high schools each year.

10. Chelsea

Dumbest Massachusetts

Source: Public domain

Population: 37,084
Adults Without High School Diploma: 35.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 4.4%

Located just across the Mystic River from Boston, Chelsea is the smallest and second most densely populated city in Massachusetts.

A whopping 35.4% of adults living in Chelsea don’t have a high school degree, which is the highest rate in the state and nearly three times as high as the state average.

Combined with the extreme population density, it’s safe to say that Chelsea has the most uneducated adults per square mile in Massachusetts.

On the other hand, the high school dropout rate for teens is 4.4%, which is only slightly higher than the state average, so as long as these high school graduates stay in Chelsea, the city can only get brighter each year.

Putting a dunce cap on our analysis

If you’re measuring the locations in Massachusetts where there are a high number of teenage dropouts and adults who never received a formal education, this is an accurate list.

If you’re wondering which cities in Massachusetts are the smartest, here they are in order: Newburyport, Newton, Franklin, Winthrop, Melrose. Newton, Winthrop, and Newton are all in the area of Boston. Newburyport is about 40 miles north of Boston, and Franklin is just a bit further away to the southwest.

So apparently, a lot of the dumbest AND smartest cities in Massachusetts are in Boston’s orbit.

Boston itself ranked as the 20th dumbest city in Massachusetts. With 15% of the city’s adult population lacking a high school diploma and a current teenage high school dropout rate of 2.5%.

The data shows Worcester to be slightly smarter than Boston, with the city ranking as the 23rd dumbest place in MA altogether.

Lowell narrowly escaped making the list, ranking as the 11th dumbest city in the state.

Cambridge, the home of Harvard and MIT, unsurprisingly ranked as the 7th smartest city in Massachusetts.

Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Massachusetts

City Rank Population Adults Without High School Diploma Teenage High School Dropoutss
Holyoke 1 40,079 23.2% 16.7%
Fall River 2 88,756 29.7% 8.4%
Springfield 3 153,836 24.2% 9.1%
Lawrence 4 77,364 31.5% 7.8%
Everett 5 42,758 19.2% 11.7%
New Bedford 6 94,873 28.9% 6.0%
Brockton 7 94,267 19.7% 6.8%
Revere 8 53,258 18.0% 8.1%
Lynn 9 91,289 19.9% 6.5%
Chelsea 10 37,084 35.4% 4.4%
Lowell 11 108,491 21.9% 5.6%
Gardner 12 20,279 15.9% 7.9%
Fitchburg 13 40,419 17.3% 6.5%
West Springfield Town 14 28,554 12.4% 8.8%
Southbridge Town 15 16,775 18.4% 4.6%
Chicopee 16 55,603 16.6% 5.3%
Taunton 17 56,056 18.7% 3.7%
Pittsfield 18 44,226 10.5% 7.0%
Malden 19 60,309 15.0% 4.0%
Boston 20 639,594 15.0% 2.5%
Marlborough 21 39,141 10.3% 5.5%
Haverhill 22 61,769 12.5% 2.6%
Worcester 23 182,511 15.8% 2.2%
Greenfield Town 24 17,484 8.5% 6.2%
Palmer Town 25 12,155 10.7% 4.1%
Leominster 26 40,954 13.2% 1.9%
Somerville 27 77,560 11.1% 2.5%
Westfield 28 41,371 9.9% 2.5%
Gloucester 29 29,237 11.2% 1.8%
Watertown Town 30 32,880 6.0% 4.5%
Attleboro 31 43,774 12.0% 0.9%
Woburn 32 38,826 6.9% 2.7%
Salem 33 42,321 9.8% 2.3%
North Adams 34 13,563 14.6% 0.0%
Peabody 35 51,868 10.1% 2.2%
Methuen Town 36 48,159 11.7% 0.5%
Waltham 37 61,908 10.5% 1.1%
Quincy 38 92,920 12.1% 0.0%
Northampton 39 28,637 5.9% 2.7%
Barnstable Town 40 44,750 5.3% 3.6%
Medford 41 56,981 8.9% 0.7%
Amesbury Town 42 16,554 6.0% 2.2%
Weymouth Town 43 54,815 6.4% 1.2%
Agawam Town 44 28,626 8.4% 0.0%
Beverly 45 40,370 5.9% 0.9%
Braintree Town 46 36,543 6.4% 0.2%
Cambridge 47 106,844 6.1% 0.4%
Easthampton Town 48 16,066 7.5% 0.0%
Melrose 49 27,509 5.6% 0.0%
Winthrop Town 50 17,992 5.4% 0.0%
Franklin Town 51 32,393 4.2% 0.0%
Newton 52 86,945 2.8% 0.4%
Newburyport 53 17,662 3.2% 0.0%