Literacy, Numeracy and Labour Market Outcomes in Canada
Most research on the contribution of human capital to economic growth and its role in the distribution of income uses indirect measures of human capital such as educational attainment and work experience. Such measures are arguably inputs into the production of human capital in the form of skills, competencies and knowledge. This study uses Canadian data from the international Adult Literacy Survey to analyse the role of directly observed skills -- specifically, prose, document and quantitative literacy -- on individual labour market earnings. The contributions of unobserved skills are taken into account using input measures (education and experience). We find that literacy skills have a large and statistically significant causal effect on earnings. As much as one-third of the return to education may be due to the combined effects of education on literacy and of literacy skills on earnings. In contrast, very little of the return to labour market experience is associated with the combined effects of experience on literacy and literacy skills on earnings.
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