Chapter 3: Returns to Adult Learning in Comparative Perspective
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This chapter develops a comparative analysis of wage returns to adult learning. Our analysis is guided by two main research questions. First, we assess whether different forms of adult learning ensure different economic rewards across 22 industrialized countries. Second, we are interested in testing whether the cross-national variability in returns to adult learning is systematically related to the institutional variation captured by the country groupings illustrated in the first chapter of this volume. This chapter focuses on a cross-sectional analysis of wage returns to adult learning among employed persons, whereas the individual country chapters provide a wealth of information on the potential consequences of adult learning for access to employment, job mobility, and other career outcomes. Because we do not have access to longitudinal comparative data on adult learning, we must focus on wages at the time of the interview and on learning experiences undertaken over the 12 months prior to the interview. This means that we cannot trace the potential long-term economic consequences of participation in adult learning. Despite this limitation, our data allow for a large-scale analysis of wage returns to adult learning, thereby ensuring a high degree of standardization and comparability, an accurate measurement of adult learning, and detailed information to control for selection into adult learning.

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