Skills projections and cognitive performance

Age and Cohort Change (ACC) projections and cognitive performance showed that workers improve in cognitively intense tasks, particularly those requiring fluid cognitive abilities, over the working life.

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ACC studied the impact of rapid technological change on age and cohort variation in type of work and wages among German men for 1986-2006. In contrast with the earlier literature, ACC found that, due to technological change, workers in their 50s experienced more rapid growth not only in cognitively intense tasks than those in their 30s, but also in tasks that were intense in the use of fluid cognitive abilities. This impacts on older workers' earning potential [1]. 

ACC also investigated how lifespan changes in cognitive performance and the "Flynn effect" [2] impacts cognition at the population level. First, in line with the Flynn effect, continued cognitive improvements were demonstrated among successive cohorts of older adults. Second, projections based on different scenarios for cognitive cohort changes as well as demographic trends show that if the Flynn effect observed in recent years continues, it would offset the corresponding age-related cognitive decline for the cognitive abilities studied. If observed cohort effects continue, ACC projections show improvements in cognitive functioning on a population level until 2042 in spite of population aging [3].


[1] Romeu-Gordo L and Skirbekk V (2013). Skill demand and the comparative advantage of age: Jobs tasks and earnings from the 1980s to the 2000s in Germany. Labour Economics, 22, pp. 61–69 (June).
[2] The Flynn effect is the substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallized intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day.
[3] Skirbekk V, Stonawski M, Bonsang E, Staudinger UM (2013). The Flynn effect and population aging. Intelligence, 41(3):169-177 (May-June 2013).

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Last edited: 22 May 2014

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