- 1993-9019 (online)
This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies drawing on the work of the OECD Directorate for Education. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language (English or French) with a short summary available in the other.
Ageing and Literacy Skills
Evidence from IALS, ALL And PIAAC
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- Garry Barrett1, W. Craig Riddell2
- Author Affiliations
- 1: University of Sydney, Australia
- 2: University of British Columbia, Canada
- 26 Oct 2016
- Bibliographic information
This paper examines the relationship between age and literacy using data from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL) and The Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). A negative partial relationship between literacy and age exists with literacy declining with age, especially after age 45. However, this relationship could reflect some combination of age and birth cohort effects. The analysis shows that in most participating countries the negative literacy-age profile observed in cross-sectional data arises from offsetting ageing and cohort effects. With some exceptions, more recent birth cohorts have lower levels of literacy and individuals from a given birth cohort lose literacy skills after they leave school at a rate greater than indicated by cross-sectional estimates. The results for birth cohort suggest that there is not a general tendency for literacy skills to decline from one generation to the next, but that the majority of the countries examined are doing a poorer job of developing literacy skills in successive generations.