According to a new paper by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, this does not paint the full picture. The researchers analyzed more than 5 million survey responses by a range of different demographic details, and classed those people who would “probably” or “definitely” not choose to get vaccinated as “vaccine-hesitant.”
In some respects the findings are as predicted — for example, the paper finds that there is a strong correlation between counties with higher Trump support in the 2020 presidential election and higher hesitancy in the period January 2021 — May 2021.
But more surprising is the breakdown in vaccine hesitancy when viewed by the level of one’s education. It finds that the association between hesitancy and education level follows a U-shaped curve with the highest hesitancy among those least and most educated. People with a master’s degree had the least hesitancy, and the highest hesitancy was among those holding a Ph.D.
What’s more, the paper found that in the first five months of 2021, the largest decrease in hesitancy was among the least educated — those with a high school education or less. Meanwhile, hesitancy held constant in the most educated group; by May, those with PhDs were the most hesitant group.