Adult learning is seen as a key factor for enhancing employment, innovation and growth, and it should concern all age cohorts. The aim of this paper is to understand the points in the life cycle at which adult learning takes place and whether it leads to reaching a medium or high level of educational attainment. To this end we perform a synthetic panel analysis of adult learning for cohorts aged 25 to 64 in 27 European countries using the European Labour Force Survey. We find, as previous results suggest, that a rise in educational attainment as well as participation in education and training happens mostly at the age range of 25-29. However, investment across the life cycle by cohorts older than 25 still occurs: in most countries in our sample, participation in education and training as well as educational attainment increases observably across all cohorts. We also find that the decline with age slows down or is even reversed for older cohorts, for both participation in education and educational attainment. Finally, we can identify a Nordic model in which adult learning is achieved through participation in education and training, a Central European model in which adult learning occurs in the form of increasing educational attainment and a liberal model in which both approaches to adult learning are observable.
Miroslav Beblavý is Senior Research Fellow, Anna-Elisabeth Thum is Research Fellow and Galina Potjagailo is a PhD Researcher at Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu.