Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Numeracy, Literacy and Earnings: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth

By C Dougherty


The analysis is concerned with the contributions of numeracy and literacy to earnings, for three reasons: first, no clear pattern emerges from existing findings relating to the contributions of different types of ability, and numeracy and literacy appear to be a natural basic starting point; second, measures to improve numeracy and literacy are often given priority in policies intended to help those with lowest educational attainment; and third, with the growth of the knowledge-based economy, and the increasing importance of digital technology, it is of interest to compare the levels and rates of change of the contributions of numeracy and literacy as reflected in earnings. The results suggest that numeracy has a highly significant effect on earnings, mostly through its effect on college attainment, but also directly, controlling for attainment, and interactively with attainment, and its effect is subject to increasing returns. While the magnitude of the effect is small in absolute terms, it is substantial when compared with other effects, and it appears to be increasing at a rate of 6 percent per year. Literacy also has a highly significant effect on earnings, but it would appear to be indirectly through its effect on attainment. There is no evidence of a direct effect, an interactive effect with attainment, nonlinearity, or change through time.Numeracy, literacy, basic skills, earnings

OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. Buiter Optimal Currency Areas: Why Does the Exchange Rate Regime Matter?
  2. Charlwood Unions and the Sword of Justice: Unions and Pay Systems, Pay Inequality, Pay Discrimination and Low Pay
  3. Employment Protection and Unemployment in an Efficiency Wage Model
  4. (1977). Estimating the Returns of Schooling: Some Econometric Problems’,
  5. Fixed-Term Contracts and Unemployment: An Efficiency Wage Analysis
  6. Gender, Motivation, Experience and Wages
  7. Impact of Work Experience and Training
  8. Kenen Currency Areas, Policy Domains and the Institutionalization of Fixed Exchange Rates
  9. Kubo Why Does Performance Pay De-Motivate? Financial Incentives versus Performance Appraisal
  10. Labour Supply, Search and Taxes
  11. Lane A Simple Model of the Transformational Recession Under a Limited Mobility Constraint
  12. Litwin Trade Unions and Industrial Injury
  13. (1989). Macroeconomic Policies and Achievements in Transition Economies,
  14. McIntosh Working on the Chain Gang? An Examination of Rising Effort Levels
  15. Neary R&D in Developing Countries: What Should Governments Do?
  16. Per Capita Income, Demand for Variety, and International Trade: Linder Reconsidered
  17. Pissarides Looking Into the Black Box: A Survey of the Matching Function
  18. Quintini Wage Equations, Wage Curves and All That
  19. Reenen Mapping the Two Faces of R&D: Productivity Growth in a Panel of OECD Industries
  20. Rey Financial Integration and Asset Returns
  21. Rey Financial Super-Markets: Size Matters for Asset Trade
  22. Rostowski Whence Reform? A Critique of the Stiglitz Perspective
  23. Symons Factor Residuals in SUR Regressions: Estimating Panels Allowing for Cross Sectional Correlation
  24. Teachers Before the ‘Threshold’
  25. Tenures that Shook the World: Worker Turnover in Russia,
  26. (1990). The Declining Economic Position of Less Skilled American Men’,
  27. The Fallacy of the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level To order a discussion paper, please contact
  28. The Viability of Trade Union Organisation: A Bargaining Unit Analysis
  29. Turon Unemployment Dynamics, Duration and Equilbirum: Evidence
  30. Union Decline
  31. (1999). What Do Educational Credentials Signal and Why Do Employers Value Credentials?’,
  32. Willman The Right to Know: Disclosure of Information for Collective Bargaining and Joint Consultation

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.