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Adult Learning

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Blossfeld, H.-P., Kilpi-Jakonen, E., Vono de Vilhena, D., and Buchholz, S. (Eds.) (2014). Adult Learning in Modern Societies: Patterns and Consequences of Participation from a Life-Course Perspective. eduLIFE Lifelong Learning Series. Vol. 1. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing.


In focus:

Various models of lifelong learning and their consequences for the educational trajectories of adults along with other (economic and noneconomic) life-course outcomes


Core findings in a nutshell

  • We distinguish non-formal adult learning (shorter training courses, often undertaken as part of employment) from formal adult learning (leading to recognized certificates and mirroring the normal educational career)

  • Participation in non-formal adult learning, particularly with employer support, is much higher than participation in formal adult learning

  • Matthew effect in participating in non-formal learning: Those who are advantaged in terms of education or occupational status participate more (except in Denmark and Germany); participation helps individuals to advance in the labor market

  • In turn, participation patterns in formal learning is more heterogeneous among countries; it often only pays off when obtained at the tertiary level

  • Family formation patterns drive female participation patterns in adult education in most countries


Selected country-specific highlights

  • Scandinavian welfare states (Denmark, Sweden, Finland):
  1. Exceptionally high participation rates in formal and non-formal adult learning

  2. Case of Denmark is particularly worth noticing: high female participation rate, high labor market returns of adult education

  • Post-socialist countries (Russia, Estonia)

    1. The comparative chapter shows that returns to formal adult learning are higher than in other countries

    2. For Russia, formal adult education however pays off only for working population.

    3. Either participation is very unequal distributed (employer-sponsored non-formal training), or does not benefit the participants (non-formal training without employer support)

    4. Hence, many disadvantaged individuals are effectively excluded from the positive outcomes of education and training later in life


External collaborators

External collaborators for adult learning phase (in alphabetical order, by country study)

Australia: Jenny Chesters, Michele Haynes, Angela Higginson

Czech Republic: Dana Hamplová, Natalie Simonová

Denmark: Vibeke M. Jensen

Finland: Pekka Martikainen, Outi Sirniö

Estonia: Eve-Liis Roosmaa, Ellu Saar, Marge Unt

Hungary: Gábor Csanádi, Adrienne Csizmady, Péter Róbert

Italy: Paolo Barbieri, Giorgio Cutuli, Michele Lugo, Stefanie Scherer

Spain: Pau Miret Gamundi

Sweden: Anders Stenberg

USA: Cheryl Elman, Felix Weiss

International comparative studies: Carlo Barone, Elisabeth Reichart, Moris Triventi

Page last updated on 17 August 2017