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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Legislators generally more educated than constituents

You may not realize it from the things they do, or the way the media reports on them, but legislators on average are far more educated than their voters, on average.

That's from a recent survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which also found that the percentage of farmers, lawyers and businesspersons has gone down since 1975, while the percentage  of consultants or other professionals, and those who say being a legislator is their main job, has gone up. 

The educational level of legislators varies pretty widely among the states, researchers said. Based on the survey, 43 percent of Washington's lawmakers have advanced degrees and 35 percent have bachelor's degrees, compared to 12 percent and 21 percent in the state as a whole. While 63 percent of the state's adults have less than a college degree, only 3.4 percent of legislators don't have one of those diplomas.

In Idaho, the disparities are similar. Among its legislators, 37 percent have advanced degrees and 34 percent have bachelor's degrees, while the numbers for adults in the state as a whole are 8 percent and 17 percent. Only about 4 percent of Idaho lawmakers don't have a college degree, compared to 75 percent of the state.

(Math note: The numbers for legislators doesn't add to 100 percent because the survey wasn't able to confirm educational levels for all lawmakers in all states.)

Despite the declines over the last 40 years, people who list their occupation as business are still the largest share, at 30 percent, down from 36 percent. Lawyer is second, at just over 14 percent, but that's down 22 percent.

Want to read more,  click here for the full article and some charts and graphs.



The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.