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Ageing and Skills: A Review and Analysis of Skill Gain and Skill Loss Over the Lifespan and Over Time


  • Richard Desjardins


  • Arne Jonas Warnke

    (Centre for European Economic Research)


The relationship between ageing and skills is becoming an important policy issue, not least in the context of population ageing. Data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) will potentially add considerably to the understanding of the relationship between ageing and foundation skills. In particular, the fact that data from the 1994-1998 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and the 2003-2007 Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALL) will be linked with PIAAC offers a unique opportunity to examine trends over time at the cohort level for a wide range of countries. Specifically, repeated measures will enable an analysis of whether there is skill gain and skill loss over the lifespan of cohorts and overtime between cohorts. This is especially important because age-skill profiles observed on the basis of a single cross-section are difficult to interpret. With this as a backdrop, this paper has sought to provide an overview of what is known about age-skill profiles and to conduct an analysis that demonstrates how trend data based on repeated cross-sectional observations of direct measures of skill at the cohort level can be used to estimate skill gain and skill loss over the lifespan and over time. La relation entre l’âge et les compétences constitue une problématique de plus en plus importante pour les pouvoirs publics, surtout dans le contexte du vieillissement de la population. Les données collectées dans le cadre du Programme international d’évaluation des compétences des adultes (PIAAC) permettront certainement de mieux comprendre le lien qui existe entre l’âge et les savoirs fondamentaux. Ainsi, le recoupement des résultats de l’Enquête internationale sur la littératie des adultes (IALS) de 1994-1998 et de l’Enquête sur la littératie et les compétences des adultes (ALLS) de 2003-2007 avec ceux du PIAAC permettra de procéder à une analyse chronologique des tendances observées au niveau des cohortes, dans un large éventail de pays. En l’occurrence, des mesures régulières permettront de déterminer si les compétences augmentent ou diminuent tout au long de la vie des cohortes et dans le temps entre les cohortes. Il s’agit d’une avancée capitale dans la mesure où les profils de compétences établis en fonction de l’âge à partir d’une seule coupe transversale sont difficiles à interpréter. Avec ces éléments en toile de fond, le présent document s’efforce de faire le bilan des connaissances actuelles sur les profils de compétences en fonction de l’âge et de mener une analyse qui montre comment les données tendancielles fondées sur des observations transversales régulières de mesures directes des compétences au niveau des cohortes peuvent être utilisées pour évaluer l’acquisition et la perte de compétences tout au long de la vie et dans le temps.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:72-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5k9csvw87ckh-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Barrett, Garry F. & Riddell, W. Craig, 2019. "Ageing and Skills: The Case of Literacy Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 12073, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Maëlle Della Peruta & Dominique Torre, 2013. "Virtual social currencies for unemployed people: social networks and job market access," Working Papers halshs-00856480, HAL.
    3. Backman, Mikaela & Karlsson, Charlie, 2013. "Exploration of Wisdom Ages: Firm survival," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 339, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    4. 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.
    5. José A. Robles-Zurita, 2017. "Cognitive skills and the LOGSE reform in Spain: evidence from PIAAC," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 401-415, November.
    6. Rosario Scandurra, 2015. "An analysis of inequality of skills among adults with PIAAC 2012," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 10, in: Marta Rahona López & Jennifer Graves (ed.),Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 10, edition 1, volume 10, chapter 0, pages 23-36, Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    7. Backman, Mikaela & Karlsson, Charlie, 2020. "Age of managers and employees – Firm survival," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 15(C).
    8. Alexandra Wicht & Nora Müller & Simone Haasler & Alexandra Nonnenmacher, 2019. "The Interplay between Education, Skills, and Job Quality," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 7(3), pages 254-269.
    9. Warnke, Arne Jonas & Ederer, Peer & Schuller, Philipp, 2012. "Cognitive skills, tasks and job mobility," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62026, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Samuel Vézina & Alain Bélanger, 2019. "Impacts of education and immigration on the size and skills of the future workforce," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 41(12), pages 331-366.
    11. 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).
    12. van der Velden, Rolf & Bijlsma, Ineke, 2017. "Skill effort: A new theoretical perspective on the relation between skills, skill use, mismatches, and wages," ROA Research Memorandum 005, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    13. Bowlus, Audra J. & Mori, Hiroaki & Robinson, Chris, 2016. "Ageing and the skill portfolio: Evidence from job based skill measures," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 7(C), pages 89-103.
    14. Esperanza Vera-Toscano & Maria Cesira Urzi Brancati, 2020. "Towards an improved adult learning monitoring framework. Revisiting the available data and indicators," JRC Working Papers JRC119018, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    15. Marta Palczynska, 2018. "Wage premia for skills: The complementarity of cognitive and non-cognitive skills," IBS Working Papers 09/2018, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    16. Brindusa Anghel & Aitor Lacuesta, 2020. "Ageing, productivity and employment status," Economic Bulletin, Banco de España;Economic Bulletin Homepage, issue 1/2020, pages 1-20.
    17. Matteo Picchio, 2015. "Is training effective for older workers?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 121-121, January.
    18. Vladimir Gimpelson, 2019. "Age and Wage: Stylized Facts and Russian Evidence," HSE Economic Journal, National Research University Higher School of Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 185-237.
    19. Maciej Lis, 2017. "Productivity based selection to retirement: Evidence from EU-SILC," IBS Working Papers 02/2017, Instytut Badan Strukturalnych.
    20. Jelnov, Pavel & Weiss, Yoram, 2020. "Influence in Economics and Aging," IZA Discussion Papers 12887, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    21. 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).
    22. 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.
    23. Lewandowski, Piotr & Keister, Roma & Hardy, Wojciech & Górka, Szymon, 2017. "Routine and Ageing? The Intergenerational Divide in the Deroutinisation of Jobs in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 10732, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    24. Petr Matějů & Jiří Večerník, 2015. "Kompetence, vzdělání a lidský kapitál v České reublice ve světle dat OECD-PIAAC [Skills, Education and Human Capital in the Czech Republic in tThe View of OECD-PIAAC Survey]," Politická ekonomie, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2015(2), pages 185-203.

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    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • I29 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Other

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