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Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital

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  • A'Hearn, Brian
  • Baten, Jörg
  • Crayen, Dorothee

Abstract

Age data frequently display excess frequencies at attractive numbers, such as multiples of five. We use this "age heaping" to measure cognitive ability in quantitative reasoning, or "numeracy". We construct a database of age heaping estimates with exceptional geographic and temporal coverage, and demonstrate a robust correlation of literacy and numeracy, where both can be observed. Extending the temporal and geographic range of our knowledge of human capital, we show that Western Europe had already diverged from the East and reached high numeracy levels by 1600, long before the rise of mass schooling or the onset of industrialization.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 69 (2009)
Issue (Month): 03 (September)
Pages: 783-808

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:69:y:2009:i:03:p:783-808_00

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  1. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Samuel Preston & Irma Elo & Ira Rosenwaike & Mark Hill, 1996. "African-american mortality at older ages: Results of a matching study," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 193-209, May.
  3. Long, Jason, 2005. "Rural-Urban Migration and Socioeconomic Mobility in Victorian Britain," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(01), pages 1-35, March.
  4. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
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  7. A'Hearn, Brian & Baten, Jörg & Crayen, Dorothee, 2009. "Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 783-808, September.
  8. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Chiswick, Barry R. & Lee, Yew Liang & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "Schooling, Literacy, Numeracy and Labor Market Success," IZA Discussion Papers 450, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  12. Robert Myers, 1976. "An instance of reverse heaping of ages," Demography, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 577-580, November.
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  14. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Ross Finnie & Ronald Meng, 2001. "Cognitive skills and the youth labour market," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(10), pages 675-679.
  16. Dennis D. Kimko & Eric A. Hanushek, 2000. "Schooling, Labor-Force Quality, and the Growth of Nations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1184-1208, December.
  17. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
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  19. Jörg Baten & Dorothee Crayen, 2008. "Global Trends in Numeracy 1820-1949 and its Implications for Long-Run Growth," CESifo Working Paper Series 2218, CESifo Group Munich.
  20. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1994. "Sources of economic growth," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-46, June.
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  1. Measuring centuries of numerical literacy
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-06-19 08:15:00
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