Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital

41 Pages Posted: 19 May 2009

See all articles by Brian A'Hearn

Brian A'Hearn

Pembroke College, Oxford

Jörg Baten

University of Tuebingen - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Dorothee Crayen

University of Tuebingen

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2009

Abstract

Age data frequently display excess frequencies at attractive numbers, such as multiples of five. We use this "age heaping" to measure cognitive ability in quantitative reasoning, or "numeracy". We construct a database of age heaping estimates with exceptional geographic and temporal coverage, and demonstrate a robust correlation of literacy and numeracy, where both can be observed. Extending the temporal and geographic range of our knowledge of human capital, we show that Western Europe had already diverged from the East and reached high numeracy levels by 1600, long before the rise of mass schooling or the onset of industrialization.

Keywords: Age Heaping, Europe, Human Capital, Literacy, Long-term Growth

JEL Classification: E24, I20, N13, O14, O40

Suggested Citation

A'Hearn, Brian and Baten, Jorg and Crayen, Dorothee, Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital (April 2009). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7277. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1405074

Brian A'Hearn (Contact Author)

Pembroke College, Oxford ( email )

Department of Economics
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Jorg Baten

University of Tuebingen - Department of Economics ( email )

Mohlstrasse 36
D-72074 Tuebingen, 72074
Germany
+49 7071 2972985 (Phone)
+49 7071 295119 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Dorothee Crayen

University of Tuebingen ( email )

Economic History
Mohlstr. 36
Tuebingen, 72074
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/uni/wwl/crayen/crayen.html

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