Education and the Age Profile of Literacy into Adulthood

34 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2008 Last revised: 19 Jun 2008

See all articles by Elizabeth Cascio

Elizabeth Cascio

Department of Economics, Dartmouth College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Damon Clark

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Nora Gordon

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2008

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

Cascio, Elizabeth and Clark, Damon and Gordon, Nora Elizabeth, Education and the Age Profile of Literacy into Adulthood (June 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14073. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1143984

Elizabeth Cascio (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Damon Clark

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Nora Elizabeth Gordon

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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