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Functional Literacy, Educational Attainment and Earnings - A Multi-Country Comparison

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Author Info

  • Kevin J Denny

    (University College Dublin)

  • Colm P Harmon

    (University College Dublin)

  • Vincent O’Sullivan

    (University College Dublin)

Abstract

In this paper a rich and innovative dataset, the International Adult Literacy Survey, is used to examine the impact of functional literacy on earnings. We show that the estimated return to formal education is sensitive to the inclusion of literacy - excluding it biases the return to education in many countries by significant amounts. Literacy itself has a well-determined effect on earnings in all countries though with considerable variation in the size of the effect. The benefits of literacy do not only arise from increasing low levels of literacy: increases at already high levels generate substantial increases in earnings in some countries. In general we find little interaction between schooling and literacy though for a few countries they appear to complement each other.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/economics/research/papers/2003/WP03.19.pdf
File Function: First version, 2003
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200319.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 25 Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200319

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References

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  1. McKinley L. Blackburn & David Neumark, 1993. "Are OLS Estimates of the Return to Schooling Biased Downward? Another Look," NBER Working Papers 4259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 1998. "Education for Growth in Sweden and the World," Working Papers 790, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Understanding the Role of Cognitive Ability in Accounting for the Recent Rise in the Economic Return to Education," NBER Working Papers 6388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. McKinley L. Blackburn & David Neumark, 1991. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 3693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek & Ian Walker, 2003. "The Returns to Education: Microeconomics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 115-156, 04.
  6. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2003. "Fifty Years of Mincer Earnings Regressions," NBER Working Papers 9732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. William W. Gould & Jeffrey Pitblado & Brian Poi, 2010. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation with Stata," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, edition 4, number ml4, April.
  8. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  9. Green, David A. & Craig Riddell, W., 2003. "Literacy and earnings: an investigation of the interaction of cognitive and unobserved skills in earnings generation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 165-184, April.
  10. Kevin Denny & Colm Harmon, 2001. "Testing for sheepskin effects in earnings equations: evidence for five countries," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(9), pages 635-637.
  11. Griliches, Zvi & Mason, William M, 1972. "Education, Income, and Ability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S74-S103, Part II, .
  12. Denny, Kevin & Harmon, Colm & Lydon, Raemonn, 2002. "Cross Country Evidence on the Returns to Education: Patterns and Explanations," CEPR Discussion Papers 3199, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, 1992. "Quantitative Literacy and the Likelihood of Employment among Young Adults in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 313-328.
  14. Boissiere, M & Knight, J B & Sabot, R H, 1985. "Earnings, Schooling, Ability, and Cognitive Skills," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1016-30, December.
  15. Kevin Denny & Colm Harmon & Dorren McMahon & Sandra Redmond, 1999. "Literacy and Education in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 30(3), pages 215-226.
  16. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  17. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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Cited by:
  1. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," CESifo Working Paper Series 3037, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Fasih, Tazeen & Kingdon, Geeta & Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Sakellariou, Chris & Soderbom, Mans, 2012. "Heterogeneous returns to education in the labor market," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6170, The World Bank.
  3. Kevin Denny & Patrick Orla Doyle, 2005. "Returns to basic skills in Central and Eastern Europe - a semi-parametric approach," Working Papers 200507, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.

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