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Determinants of Economic and Social Outcomes from a Life-Wide Learning Perspective in Canada

Richard Desjardins

Education Economics, 2003, vol. 11, issue 1, 11-38

Abstract: The notion that the knowledge and skills embodied in individuals contribute to the creation of economic and social benefits is not a new concept. But in practice little is known about the extent and relative influence of how different learning activities contribute to the formation of one's knowledge and skills, and in turn their relative influence in generating different kinds of benefits. Studies either focus on one form of learning or the other, and for the most part they tend to focus on indicators of formal education. To improve the understanding of how education and learning lead to the creation of economic and social benefits, a comprehensive approach drawing on all the potential sources of knowledge and skills should be applied. Accordingly, the primary objective of the present article is to measure the relative influence of engaging in various learning activities--Aspanning the 'life-wide' spectrum of learning--Aon economic and social benefits. The study presents a conceptual framework and uses data from the Canadian Adult Literacy Survey to estimate corresponding structural models. The findings provide support for the hypotheses formulated; namely, that the relationship between formal education and economic and social outcomes is complex, with confounding effects. The results indicate that different types of learning activities taken for different reasons lead to different kinds of benefits. The latter finding suggests a potential trade-off between attaining economic and social benefits through different types of learning activities that are taken for either job-related or personal interest-related reasons. The article concludes that further in-depth analyses are required to improve the understanding of the complex relationship between various learning activities and the benefits they generate.

Date: 2003
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DOI: 10.1080/09645290210127462

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