HDNED publishes "Functional Literacy, Heterogeneity and the Returns to Schooling: multi-country evidence".


The new report of the World Bank is published in the Bulletin "Economics of Education"

The Human and Development Network of Education (HDNED) Group from the World Bank has published the report Functional literacy, heterogeneity and the returns to schooling: multi-country evidence.

Little is known about which of the skills that make up workers' human capital contribute to higher earnings. Past empirical evidence suggest that most of the return to schooling is generated by effects or correlates unrelated to the skills measured by the available tests. This paper uses the International Adult Literacy and the Adult Literacy and Life Skills surveys to obtain multi-country estimates of the components of the return to schooling.

The results reveal considerable heterogeneity and a dichotomy between two groups of countries. For a subgroup of educationally advanced countries, nearly half of the return to schooling can be attributed to labor marker-relevant functional literacy skills associated with schooling, while for a subgroup of less educationally advanced countries, such skills account for just over 20 percent of the return to schooling, while the return to schooling mostly reflects the signaling value of schooling.

To download the full report click here.


  • UNESCO. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • The Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP)

Sponsored by

  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry of Business and Employment. Department of Research and Universities
  • Generalitat de Catalunya. Ministry for Foreign Action and Open Government