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:
- Fall River
- New Bedford
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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
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