Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Education and the Age Profile of Literacy into Adulthood

Contents:

Author Info

  • Elizabeth Cascio
  • Damon Clark
  • Nora Gordon

Abstract

American teenagers perform considerably worse on international assessments of achievement than do teenagers in other high-income countries. This observation has been a source of great concern since the first international tests were administered in the 1960s. But does this skill gap persist into adulthood? We examine this question using the first international assessment of adult literacy, conducted in the 1990s. We find that, consistent with other assessments of the school-age population, U.S. teenagers perform relatively poorly, ranking behind teenagers in the twelve other rich countries surveyed. However, by their late twenties, Americans compare much more favorably to their counterparts abroad: U.S. adults aged 26-30 assessed at the same time using the same test ranked seventh in the same group of countries, and the gap with countries still ahead was much diminished. The historical advantage that the United States has enjoyed in college graduation appears to be an important reason why, between the teen years and the late twenties, American literacy rates appear to catch up with those in other high-income countries. The educational systems of countries with high university graduation rates appear to share two features: comprehensive secondary schools -- in which all students have the option of taking courses to prepare for university -- and a highly accessible university sector. For most of the twentieth century, the United States led the developed world in participation and completion of higher education. In recent years, however, other high-income countries -- many of which established comprehensive secondary schooling in decades prior -- have substantially expanded access to university education. These changes should have striking consequences for the distribution of skill across countries in the years to come.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.22.3.47
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 22 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 47-70

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:22:y:2008:i:3:p:47-70

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.22.3.47
Contact details of provider:
Email:
Web page: http://www.aeaweb.org/jep/
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Web: http://www.aeaweb.org/subscribe.html

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Eric A. Hanushek & Lei Zhang, 2006. "Quality-Consistent Estimates of International Returns to Skill," NBER Working Papers 12664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Erik Plug, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Mother's Schooling on Children's Schooling Using a Sample of Adoptees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 358-368, March.
  3. Fuchs, Thomas & Woessmann, Ludger, 2004. "What Accounts for International Differences in Student Performance? A Re-Examination Using PISA Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1287, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Gabriela Schütz & Heinrich Ursprung & Ludger Woessmann, 2005. "Education Policy and Equality of Opportunity," CESifo Working Paper Series 1518, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
  6. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2004. "Educational reform, ability and family background," IFS Working Papers W04/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Ludger Woesmann, 2003. "Schooling Resources, Educational Institutions and Student Performance: the International Evidence," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(2), pages 117-170, 05.
  8. repec:pse:psecon:2007-18 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Fabrice Murtin & Martina Viarengo, 2007. "The convergence process of compulsory schooling in Western Europe: 1950-2000," PSE Working Papers halshs-00588053, HAL.
  10. Dan Devroye & Richard Freeman, 2002. "Does Inequality in Skills Explain Inequality of Earnings Across Advanced Countries?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0552, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2004. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1115, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Bound, John & Turner, Sarah, 2007. "Cohort crowding: How resources affect collegiate attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 877-899, June.
  13. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Reassessing the view that American schools are broken," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Mar, pages 29-43.
  15. Dynarski, Susan, 2001. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," Working Paper Series rwp01-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  16. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2004. "Returns to investment in education: a further update," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 111-134.
  17. Susan Dynarski, 2005. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," NBER Working Papers 11604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2001. "Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher US Wage Inequality?," NBER Working Papers 8210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Woessmann, 2004. "What Accounts for International Differences in Student Performance? A Re-Examination Using PISA Data (new title: What accounts for international differences in student performance? A re-examination us," CESifo Working Paper Series 1235, CESifo Group Munich.
  20. Claudia Goldin, 2001. "The Human Capital Century and American Leadership: Virtues of the Past," NBER Working Papers 8239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. repec:fth:prinin:395 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00588053 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1999. "The Community College: Educating Students at the Margin between College and Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 63-84, Winter.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. On adult literacy in the United States
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-10-14 23:32:00
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Brunello, Giorgio & Fort, Margherita & Weber, Guglielmo & Weiss, Christoph T., 2013. "Testing the Internal Validity of Compulsory School Reforms as Instrument for Years of Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 7533, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Elizabeth Cascio, 2008. "Can young Americans compete in a global economy?," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jul18.
  3. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  4. Giorgio Brunello & Daniele Fabbri & Margherita Fort, 2010. "Years of Schooling, Human Capital and the Body Mass Index of European Females," CHILD Working Papers wp02_10, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  5. Brunori, Paolo & Peragine, Vito & Serlenga, Laura, 2012. "Fairness in education: The Italian university before and after the reform," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 764-777.
  6. Richard Desjardins & Arne Jonas Warnke, 2012. "Ageing and Skills: A Review and Analysis of Skill Gain and Skill Loss Over the Lifespan and Over Time," OECD Education Working Papers 72, OECD Publishing.
  7. Scott E. Carrell & Bruce Sacerdote, 2013. "Late Interventions Matter Too: The Case of College Coaching New Hampshire," NBER Working Papers 19031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Charles T. Clotfelter, 2010. "Introduction to "American Universities in a Global Market"," NBER Chapters, in: American Universities in a Global Market, pages 1-29 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis & Alicia Robb, 2010. "Local Labor Force Education, New Business Characteristics, and Firm Performance," NBER Chapters, in: Cities and Entrepreneurship National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Arusha Cooray (University of Wollongong), . "Does Colonialism Exert a Long Term Economic Impact on Adult Literacy?," QEH Working Papers qehwps176, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  11. Silva, André C., 2010. "Managerial ability and capital flows," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 126-136, September.

Lists

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
  1. Economic Logic blog

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:22:y:2008:i:3:p:47-70. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.