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Ageing and literacy skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States

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  • Green, David A.
  • Riddell, W. Craig

Abstract

We study the relationship between age and literacy skills in Canada, Norway and the U.S. — countries that represent a wide range of literacy outcomes — using data from the 1994 and 2003 International Adult Literacy Surveys. In cross-sectional data there is a weak negative partial relationship between literacy skills and age. However, this relationship could reflect some combination of age and cohort effects. In order to identify age effects, we use the 1994 and 2003 surveys to create synthetic cohorts. Our analysis shows that the modest negative slope of the literacy-age profile in cross-sectional data arises from offsetting ageing and cohort effects. Individuals from a given birth cohort lose literacy skills after they leave school at a rate greater than indicated by cross-sectional estimates. At the same time, more recent birth cohorts have lower levels of literacy. All three countries show similar patterns of skill loss with age, as well as declining literacy across successive cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Green, David A. & Riddell, W. Craig, 2013. "Ageing and literacy skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 16-29.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:22:y:2013:i:c:p:16-29
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2012.08.011
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    Cited by:

    1. Bloom, David E. & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2013. "Ageing and Productivity: Introduction," IZA Discussion Papers 7205, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Barrett, Garry F. & Riddell, W. Craig, 2019. "Ageing and Skills: The Case of Literacy Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 12073, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Catherine Haeck & Pierre Lefebvre, 2020. "The Evolution of Cognitive Skills Inequalities by Socioeconomic Status across Canada," Working Papers 20-04, Research Group on Human Capital, University of Quebec in Montreal's School of Management.
    4. Hanushek, Eric A. & Schwerdt, Guido & Wiederhold, Simon & Woessmann, Ludger, 2015. "Returns to skills around the world: Evidence from PIAAC," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 103-130.
    5. Garry Barrett & W. Craig Riddell, 2016. "Ageing and Literacy Skills: Evidence from IALS, ALL And PIAAC," OECD Education Working Papers 145, OECD Publishing.
    6. Samuel Vézina & Alain Bélanger, 2020. "Literacy Skills as an Explanation for Labor Market Imbalances by Occupational Type in Canada: Microsimulation Projections for 2014–2024," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 39(6), pages 1019-1049, December.
    7. Bernt Bratsberg & Torbjørn Hægeland & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2013. "Immigrant skills and employment. Cross-country evidence from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey," Discussion Papers 730, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    8. Bloom, David E. & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2013. "Ageing and productivity," FZID Discussion Papers 63-2012, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    9. Jorge Calero & Inés P. Murillo Huertas & Josep Lluís Raymond Bara, 2016. "Education, age and skills: an analysis using the PIAAC survey," Working Papers 2016/3, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    10. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green & Benjamin M. Sand, 2014. "The Declining Fortunes of the Young since 2000," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 381-386, May.
    11. Albæk, Karsten, 2016. "A Test of the ?Use it or Lose It? Hypothesis in Labour Markets around the World/Una prueba de la hipótesis "usarlo o perderlo" en los mercados de trabajo del mundo," Estudios de Economia Aplicada, Estudios de Economia Aplicada, vol. 34, pages 323-352, Mayo.
    12. Xinxin Ma & Shi Li, 2017. "The Effects of Minimum Wage on Wage Distribution in Urban China: Evidence from the CHIP Data," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 201724, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
    13. Jelnov, Pavel & Weiss, Yoram, 2020. "Influence in Economics and Aging," IZA Discussion Papers 12887, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Jin Song & Terry Sicular & Björn Gustafsson, 2017. "China’s Urban Gender Wage Gap: A New Direction?," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 201723, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
    15. Karsten Albæk, 2015. "A test of the ‘lose it or use it’ hypothesis in labour markets around the world," Working Papers 2015/24, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    16. Flisi, Sara & Goglio, Valentina & Meroni, Elena Claudia & Vera-Toscano, Esperanza, 2019. "Cohort patterns in adult literacy skills: How are new generations doing?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 52-65.
    17. Audra Bowlus & Chris Robinson, 2020. "The evolution of the human capital of women," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(1), pages 12-42, February.
    18. Audra Bowlus & Lance Lochner & Chris Robinson & Eda Suleymanoglu, 2021. "Wages, Skills, and Skill-Biased Technical Change: The Canonical Model Revisited," CESifo Working Paper Series 9212, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human capital; Literacy; Cognitive skills; ageing;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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