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Education and the Age Profile of Literacy into Adulthood

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  • Elizabeth Cascio
  • Damon Clark
  • Nora Gordon

Abstract

It is widely documented that U.S. students score below their OECD counterparts on international achievement tests, but it is less commonly known that ultimately, U.S. native adults catch up. In this paper, we explore institutional explanations for differences in the evolution of literacy over young adulthood across wealthy OECD countries. We use an international cross-section of micro data from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS); these data show that cross-country differences in the age profile of literacy skills are not due to differences in individual family background, and that relatively high rates of university graduation appears to explain a good part of the U.S. "catch up." The cross-sectional design of the IALS prevents us from controlling for cohort effects, but we use a variety of other data sources to show that cohort effects are likely small in comparison to the differences by age revealed in the IALS. We go on to discuss how particular institutional features of secondary and postsecondary education correlate, at the country level, with higher rates of university completion.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Cascio & Damon Clark & Nora Gordon, 2008. "Education and the Age Profile of Literacy into Adulthood," NBER Working Papers 14073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14073
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    Cited by:

    1. Elizabeth Cascio, 2008. "Can young Americans compete in a global economy?," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jul18.
    2. Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis & Alicia Robb, 2010. "Local Labor Force Education, New Business Characteristics, and Firm Performance," NBER Chapters,in: Cities and Entrepreneurship National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Charles T. Clotfelter, 2010. "Introduction to "American Universities in a Global Market"," NBER Chapters,in: American Universities in a Global Market, pages 1-29 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Scott Carrell & Bruce Sacerdote, 2017. "Why Do College-Going Interventions Work?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 124-151, July.
    5. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    6. Brunori, Paolo & Peragine, Vito & Serlenga, Laura, 2012. "Fairness in education: The Italian university before and after the reform," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 764-777.
    7. Silva, André C., 2010. "Managerial ability and capital flows," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 126-136, September.
    8. Brunello, Giorgio & Fabbri, Daniele & Fort, Margherita, 2009. "Years of Schooling, Human Capital and the Body Mass Index of European Females," IZA Discussion Papers 4667, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. G. Brunello & M. Fort & G. Weber & C. T. Weiss, 2013. "Testing the Internal Validity of Compulsory School Reforms as Instrument for Years of Schooling," Working Papers wp911, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    10. Richard Desjardins & Arne Jonas Warnke, 2012. "Ageing and Skills: A Review and Analysis of Skill Gain and Skill Loss Over the Lifespan and Over Time," OECD Education Working Papers 72, OECD Publishing.
    11. Arusha Cooray (University of Wollongong), "undated". "Does Colonialism Exert a Long Term Economic Impact on Adult Literacy?," QEH Working Papers qehwps176, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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