Ageing and Literacy Skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States – IZA Discussion Paper No. 6424 (2012)

In this paper, the authors examine the relationship between age and basic literacy skills in Canada, Norway, and the United States, using data from the 1994 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) and the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (IALSS).

The authors first looked at the data from cross-sections of the groups surveyed and found a weak negative partial relationship between literacy skills and age. However, as this relationship could reflect some combination of age and cohort effects, they used the information from the 1994 and 2003 surveys to create birth cohorts.

Their analysis shows that the modest negative slope of the literacy-age profile in cross-sectional data arises from offsetting ageing and cohort effects. Individuals from a given birth cohort lose literacy skills after they leave school at a rate greater than indicated by cross-sectional estimates.

At the same time, more recent birth cohorts have lower levels of literacy. These results suggest both a widespread tendency for literacy skills to decline over time, and that these countries are doing a poorer job of educating successive generations. All three countries show similar patterns of skill loss with age, as well as declining literacy across successive cohorts.

The countries differ, however, in the part of the skill distribution where falling skills are most evident. In Canada the cross-cohort declines are especially large at the top of the skill distribution, while in Norway, declining skills across cohorts are more prevalent at the bottom of the distribution. In the United States, the decline in literacy skills over time is most pronounced in the middle of the distribution.

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2014-04-11
APA citation
David A. Green and W. Craig Riddell. Ageing and Literacy Skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States – IZA Discussion Paper No. 6424 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2020 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/ageing_and_literacy_skills/ageing_and_literacy_skills.pdf>
David A. Green & W. Craig Riddell (2012). Ageing and Literacy Skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States – IZA Discussion Paper No. 6424. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/ageing_and_literacy_skills/ageing_and_literacy_skills.pdf
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