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

Universitat Pompeu Fabra Economics Working Paper No. 996

Posted: 23 Jan 2007

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: November 2006

Abstract

Age data frequently display excess frequencies at round or attractive ages, such as even numbers and multiples of five. This phenomenon of age heaping has been viewed as a problem in previous research, especially in demography and epidemiology. We see it as an opportunity and propose its use as a measure of human capital that can yield comparable estimates across a wide range of historical contexts. A simulation study yields methodological guidelines for measuring and interpreting differences in age heaping, while analysis of contemporary and historical datasets demonstrates the existence of a robust correlation between age heaping and literacy at both the individual and aggregate level. To illustrate the method, we generate estimates of human capital in Europe over the very long run, which support the hypothesis of a major increase in human capital preceding the industrial revolution.

Keywords: Human Capital, Age Heaping, Growth, Industrial Revolution, Numeracy

JEL Classification: I21, N01, N30, 015

Suggested Citation

A'Hearn, Brian and Baten, Jorg and Crayen, Dorothee, Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital (November 2006). Universitat Pompeu Fabra Economics Working Paper No. 996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=958732

Brian A'Hearn

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 (Contact Author)

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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