This report, published by Pearson and written by The Economist Intelligence Unit, is part of a wide-ranging programme of quantitative and qualitative analysis, entitled The Learning Curve.

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It seeks to distil some of the major lessons on the links between education and skill development, retention and use.

Underlying this report are the findings from the analysis of a large body of internationally comparable education data – The Learning Curve Data Bank (LCDB). First compiled in 2012, the LCDB has been updated in early 2014 to include, among other indicators, the latest test results from:

› the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
› the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
› the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
› the initial output from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), which looks at cognitive skill levels across the population.

The Economist Intelligence Unit has also updated the associated Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment, which compares the education outputs of countries. Both the LCDB and the Index are accessible online. For more information on the data we have used, please refer to Appendix 2.

The report also draws on extensive desk research, as well as in-depth interviews conducted with seven experts in education. The research was conducted entirely by The Economist Intelligence Unit, and the views expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect those of Pearson. The report was written by Dr Paul Kielstra and edited by Sara Mosavi of The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Sincere thanks go to the following interviewees for sharing their insights on this topic:

Professor Maria Helena Guimarães de Castro
Executive director, SEADE, São Paulo, Brazil

Eric Hanushek
Paul and Jean Hanna Senior fellow, Stanford University

Professor Elizabeth Henning
Director, Centre for Education Practice Research, University of Johannesburg

Dr Randall S Jones
Head of the Japan/South Korea Desk, OECD

Professor Kjell Rubenson
Department of Educational Studies, The University of British Columbia

Andreas Schleicher
Deputy director for education, OECD

Jagmohan Singh Raju
Director-general, National Literacy Mission Authority

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