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April, 20 professor Andy Green (University of London) talk about education, skills and ‘pre-distributive’ social policy

This paper will use the OECD PISA and Survey of Adult Skills data to examine the variation across countries in the distribution of the literacy and numeracy skills of young people and adults, how these change over the life course, and how the characteristics of education and training systems affect this.

Andy Green's main field of research is the comparative (historical and sociological) study of education and training systems, their origins and social and economic consequences. He has a long-standing interest in education and state formation and has directed major cross-country comparative research projects on:

  • skills formation and economic competitiveness in Europe and Asia
  • funding and regulation of lifelong learning
  • convergences and divergences in European education and training systems
  • education, inequality and social cohesion. 

This paper will use the OECD PISA and Survey of Adult Skills data to examine the variation across countries in the distribution of the literacy and numeracy skills of young people and adults, how these change over the life course, and how the characteristics of education and training systems affect this.

Education and training are the key determinants of future life chances for individuals and a primary societal mechanism for the reproduction of social stratification across generations. The form of the education and training system in a country will substantially determine the way skills are distributed throughout society and the levels of inter-generational social mobility. The distribution of skills is a significant factor in determining the distribution of adult earnings and therefore has an important bearing on income inequality. Hence the current policy discussions about how ‘pre-distributive’ social policies in education and other spheres can be used to reduce inequalities in wages and incomes.