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The Value of Basic Skills in the British Labour Market

  • Oscar Marcenaro Gutierrez
  • Anna Vignoles
  • Augustin de Coulon

In this paper we evaluate the labour market value of basic skills in the UK, focusing on the wage and employment returns to having better literacy and numeracy skills. We draw on literacy and numeracy assessments undertaken by all cohort members of the UK 1970 British Cohort Study. The data used are very rich and allow us to account for potential ability bias, including as they do early childhood assessments of ability. We find that the literacy and numeracy effects on earnings are over and above any general effect on earnings from a person being more cognitively able. We also assess whether the value of basic skills, in terms of wage returns, has increased over time, using a cross cohort analysis based on the 1958 National Child Development Study cohort and the 1970 British Cohort Study. Our results show that literacy and numeracy skills retained their high value in the labour market over the period 1995-2004, despite numerous policy attempts to increase the supply of basic skills during this period.

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File URL: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp77.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0077.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0077
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

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  1. Lorraine Dearden & Steven McIntosh & Michal Myck & Anna Vignoles, 2000. "The Returns to Academic and Vocational Qualifications in Britain," CEE Discussion Papers 0004, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  2. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. McIntosh, Steven & Vignoles, Anna, 2001. "Measuring and Assessing the Impact of Basic Skills on Labour Market Outcomes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 453-81, July.
  4. Lorraine Dearden, 1998. "Ability, families, education and earnings in Britain," IFS Working Papers W98/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & Alan Krueger, 1995. "Jackknife Instrumental Variables Estimation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. F Green & Steven McIntosh & Anna Vignoles, 1999. "Overeducation and Skills - Clarifying the Concepts," CEP Discussion Papers dp0435, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
  9. Kevin Denny & Colm Harmon & Vincent O'Sullivan, 2004. "Education, earnings and skills: a multi-country comparison," IFS Working Papers W04/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, August.
  11. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-74, December.
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