Education and Cognitive Skills in the Spanish Adult Population. Inter-generational Comparison of Mathematical Knowledge from the PIAAC Data

Antonio Villar


The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competences (PIAAC), coordinated by the OECD, is a new step in the generation of internationally comparable data on the cognitive skills of the population in a wide range of countries. It extends former work on the abilities of the adult population in the field of reading literacy (IALS, ALL) and complements the studies carried out on the levels of competence of young people in different fields and for different ages (PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS, among others).[1] The present study provides cross-section data on the skills of the adult population (aged 16 to 65 years) in the areas of reading literacy and mathematics.Twenty-four countries have participated in this first wave and a few more will be incorporated in an extension intended for the next years. The assessment of people’s skills is carried out through questionnaires and the valuations are measured on a scale of 0-500 points.


Full Text:



Acemoglu, D. & Robinson, J. (2012), Why Nations Fail. The Origin of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, Crown Publishing Group, New York.

De Grip, A., Bosma, H., Willems, D., & Van Boxtel, M. (2008), Job-worker mismatch and cognitive decline, Oxford Economics Papers, 60 : 237-253.

Desjardins, R. (2003), Determinants of literacy proficiency: a life-long learning perspective, International Journal of Educational Reseach, 39 : 205-245.

Desjardins, R. & Warnke, A.J. (2012), Ageing and skills: a review and analysis of skill gain and skill loss over the life span and over time, OECD working paper nº 72.

Felgueroso, F., Gutiérrez‐Domènech, M. & Jiménez‐Martín, S. (2013), Dropout Trends and Educational Reforms: The Role of the LOGSE in Spain , Fedea working paper 2013-04.

Herrero, C. & Villar, A. (2013), Group performance with categorical data, PLoS ONE, 8(12): e84784. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084784 .

Jzendoorn van, M.H., Juffer, F., & Poelhius, C.W.K. (2005). Adoption and cognitive development: a meta-analytic comparison of adopted and nonadopted children’s IQ and school performance, Psychological Bulletin, 131 : 301-316.

Laslier, J. (1997), Tournament solutions and majority voting, Springer, Berlin, Heildelberg, New York.

Lieberson, S. (1976) Rank-sum comparisons between groups, Sociological Methodology, 7, 276-291.

Mincer, J., & Ofek, H. (1982). Interrupted work careers: Depreciation and restoration of human capital, Journal of Human Resources, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 3-24.

OECD (2012), Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives: A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies, OECD Publishing.

OECD (2013), OECD Skills Outlook 2013, OECD Publishing.

Palacios-Huerta, I. & Volij, O (2004), The Measurement of Intellectual Influence, Econometrica, 72: 963-977.

Pazy, A. (2004), Updating in response to the experience of lacking knowledge, Journal of Applied Psychology, 53: 436-452.

Reardon, S. F. & Firebaugh, G. (2002), Measures of Multi-Group Segregation, Sociological Methodology, 32: 33-76.

Robles, J.A. (2013), Diferencias entre cohortes en España: El papel de la Ley Orgánica de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo y un análisis de la depreciación del capital humano.

Schaie, K.W. (1996). Intellectual development in adulthood. En Birren, J.E. and Schaie, K. W. (eds), Handbook of the Psychology of Ageing, 4th edition (pp. 3-23). San Diego: Academic Press.

Schaie, K.W. (2009). “When does age-related cognitive decline begin?” Salthouse again reifies the “cross- sectional fallacy”, Neurobiology of Ageing, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 528-533.

Staff, R. T., Murray, A. D., Deary, I. J., & Whalley, L. J. (2004), What provides cerebral reserve?, Brain, 127 : 1191-1199.

Statistics Canada & OECD (2000). Literacy in the Information Age: Final Report of the International Adult Literacy Survey. Paris and Ottawa: Statistics Canada and OECD.

Statistics Canada & OECD (2005). Learning a Living: First Results of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey. Ottawa and Paris.



  • There are currently no refbacks.


Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal; ISSN 2055-0286

Copyright Services for Science and Education Ltd, United Kingdom