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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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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7277.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7277

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Keywords: Age Heaping; Europe; Human Capital; Literacy; Long-term Growth;

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References

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  1. Ross Finnie & Ronald Meng, 2001. "Cognitive skills and the youth labour market," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(10), pages 675-679.
  2. Matteo Cervellati & Uwe Sunde, 2005. "Human Capital Formation, Life Expectancy, and the Process of Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1653-1672, December.
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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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