Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Numeracy wins again

This week’s finding is from analysis of the PIAAC data.  Here is the money shot, 'On average, one standard-deviation increase in numeracy skill is associated with an 18% wage increase.'  That means you pop up two standard-deviations and you are suddenly earning a whole lot more.  
It doesn't prove that being better at numeracy means you will earn more. This is because numeracy skill correlates with other things such as socio-economic status, employment and health.  Also, you may very well learn the numeracy skills 'on the job', which would also explain much of the findings. However, it is very compelling.  No such findings were found for literacy.  

Note that the increase in wages are not as large in countries with denser union numbers. I guess this is because there is less opportunity to leverage your individual numeracy skills.  

Returns to Skills around the World: Evidence from PIAAC

Eric A. HanushekGuido SchwerdtSimon WiederholdLudger Woessmann

NBER Working Paper No. 19762
Issued in December 2013
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS   PE 

Existing estimates of the labor-market returns to human capital give a distorted picture of the role of skills across different economies. International comparisons of earnings analyses rely almost exclusively on school attainment measures of human capital, and evidence incorporating direct measures of cognitive skills is mostly restricted to early-career workers in the United States. Analysis of the new PIAAC survey of adult skills over the full lifecycle in 22 countries shows that the focus on early-career earnings leads to underestimating the lifetime returns to skills by about one quarter. On average, a one-standard- deviation increase in numeracy skills is associated with an 18 percent wage increase among prime-age workers. But this masks considerable heterogeneity across countries. Eight countries, including all Nordic countries, have returns between 12 and 15 percent, while six are above 21 percent with the largest return being 28 percent in the United States. Estimates are remarkably robust to different earnings and skill measures, additional controls, and various subgroups. Intriguingly, returns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Adult numeracy - is there a problem?

I am in the process of updating my literature review and am finding all sorts of interesting things.  The statements below are taken from Professor Diana Coben's presentation found here:


She notes:
Use value and exchange value are both necessary.

50% of employers are dissatisfied with the basic numeracy of UK school leavers.

Many firms see a grade C or above in maths and English at GCSE as a benchmark of employability. But this year barely half (55.2%) hit that standard in maths (CBI, 2007)

I'd love to see some New Zealand research. I wonder what we would find?


CBI (2007) CBI applauds GCSE students but gaps in basic skills remain nightmare for firms. Press Release, 23 August, 2007. http://www.cbi.org.uk/ndbs/press.nsf/0363c1f07c6ca12a8025671c00381cc7/ bc6e9d1d3b30a71f80257340003830ad?OpenDocument

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Whiteboard problems - Pythagoras theorem 

If you are working on the Pythagoras Theorem these three problems may be good fun.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Wednesdays Whiteboard Puzzle

Below is one of the best puzzles I have ever come across.  The clip below embeds it within a communication context, but you can just copy it straight to the whiteboard.  My advice is to try and solve the puzzle before watching the entire clip.

It's a little long winded I know. Endure.

Good luck.