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Rethinking Age-Heaping. A Cautionary Tale from Nineteenth Century Italy

Author

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  • Brian A'Hearn
  • Alexia Delfino
  • Alessandro Nuvolari

Abstract

A growing literature employs age-heaping as an indicator of human capital, more specifically of numeracy. We re-examine this link in light of a range of evidence from nineteenth century Italy, which suggests that age-heapers were most likely ignorant of their age, not their numbers. Though it can stand in as an acceptable proxy for literacy, our findings indicate that age-heaping is most plausibly interpreted as an indicator of cultural and institutional modernisation rather than a measure of cognitive skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian A'Hearn & Alexia Delfino & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2016. "Rethinking Age-Heaping. A Cautionary Tale from Nineteenth Century Italy," LEM Papers Series 2016/35, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2016/35
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlo Ciccarelli & Jacob Weisdorf, 2019. "Pioneering into the past: Regional literacy developments in Italy before Italy," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 329-364.
    2. Dana Glei & Andres Barajas Paz & Josè Manuel Aburto & Magali Barbieri, 2021. "Mexican mortality 1990‒2016: Comparison of unadjusted and adjusted estimates," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 44(30), pages 719-758.
    3. Kempter, Elisabeth & Upadhayay, Neha Bhardwaj, 2022. "Uncovering the role of education in the uptake of preventive measures against Malaria in the African population," University of Tübingen Working Papers in Business and Economics 155, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, School of Business and Economics.
    4. Beltrán Tapia, Francisco J. & Díez-Minguela, Alfonso & Martinez-Galarraga, Julio & Tirado-Fabregat, Daniel A., 2022. "Two Stories, One Fate: Age-Heaping And Literacy In Spain, 1877-1930," Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(3), pages 405-438, December.
    5. Èric Gómez-i-Aznar, 2019. "Human capital at the beginnings of the 18th century Catalonia: age-heaping and numeracy in a changing economy," Documentos de Trabajo (DT-AEHE) 1904, Asociación Española de Historia Económica.
    6. Brian A'Hearn & Alexia Delfino & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2022. "Age heaping and its discontents: A response to Baten, Benati, and Ferber," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(3), pages 972-980, August.
    7. Graziella Bertocchi & Monica Bozzano, 2019. "Gender gaps in education," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 142, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    8. Joerg Baten & Giacomo Benati & Sarah Ferber, 2022. "Rethinking age heaping again for understanding its possibilities and limitations," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(3), pages 960-971, August.
    9. Mikołaj Szołtysek & Bartosz Ogórek & Radosław Poniat & Siegfried Gruber, 2020. "Making a Place for Space: A Demographic Spatial Perspective on Living Arrangements Among the Elderly in Historical Europe," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 36(1), pages 85-117, March.
    10. Zhou, Qingtian, 2017. "Food Prices and Cognitive Development in the United States: Evidence from the 1850-1930 Data," Master's Theses and Plan B Papers 261505, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    11. Giovanni Campisi & Silvia Muzzioli, 2019. "Construction and properties of volatility indices for Austria, Finland and Spain," Department of Economics 0156, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    12. Graziella Bertocchi & Monica Bozzano, 2019. "Gender gaps in education," Department of Economics 0158, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    13. Matthias Blum & Karl‐Peter Krauss & Dmytro Myeshkov, 2022. "Human capital transfer of German‐speaking migrants in eastern Europe, 1780s–1820s," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 75(3), pages 703-738, August.
    14. Youssouf Merouani & Faustine Perrin, 2022. "Gender and the long-run development process. A survey of the literature [Rethinking age heaping: A cautionary tale from nineteenth-century Italy]," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 612-641.
    15. A'Hearn, Brian & Delfino, Alexia & Nuvolari, Alessandro, 2019. "Cognition, Culture, and State Capacity: Age-Heaping in XIX Century Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 14261, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Age-Heaping; Numeracy; Human capital; Italy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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